After an auto accident, you may find yourself looking for a new vehicle. Whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced guru, there are several ways you can improve your car buying experience.
Do Your Research Beforehand
There are resources available that can help you determine the fair market value of a vehicle, i.e. Kelly Blue Book, CarFax, etc. These resources will help you determine the worth of both the vehicle you are interested in purchasing and your trade-in (if applicable); helping you negotiate with the seller later on. Furthermore, research will help you narrow down the type of vehicle that will best meet your needs.
New vs. Certified Pre-owned vs. Leasing
There are several options when you purchase a vehicle. Purchasing a new vehicle will be pricier than purchasing a used vehicle. If a new car is out of the question, you may want to consider purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle. Typically these vehicles have their factory warranty intact and have fewer miles on them compared to other used vehicles.
If you choose to lease a vehicle, you will end up paying about the same amount each month as if you had purchased it, except you will eventually have to return the vehicle. If you need a car long term or need a work vehicle, you should probably avoid leasing and purchase a vehicle instead.
Stick to a Budget
Before you begin looking for a vehicle, decide what your maximum budget is. Do not base your budget on projected monthly payments, but rather the total cost of the automobile. Sales representatives will do their best to confuse you by giving you numbers based on monthly payments. Do not fall for this. Base your budget on the complete cost of the vehicle.
Be firm with your budget, do not dig into your savings, or emergency fund in order to finance your down payment. Also, you need to be aware that the prices listed on the vehicles themselves (if purchasing from a dealership) will not include sales tax or any other associated fees. Let the salesperson know that your maximum must include the cost of any additional fees.
Test Drive the Car Before You Buy It
Test drive the car you are interested in purchasing before you buy it, otherwise, you will not know the true condition of the vehicle; how it performs, its style, or its comfort level. 10% of all car buyers do not test drive the vehicle before purchase, which prevents the buyer from making an informed decision.
If you have children you should bring them with you to test drive the vehicle. This way you can ensure that the vehicle you are looking to purchase has adequate safety features, and that it will be comfortable not only for you but for your children as well.
When test driving the vehicle, the idle should be smooth and quiet; check that the mirrors will adjust to your preference; make sure the seating position gives you a good view of the gauges on the dashboard; check that all essential functions work, i.e. AC/heating, turn signals, windshield wipers, etc.; lastly make sure the vehicle responds appropriately to both the accelerator, and the breaks.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Inform the salesperson (if you are at a dealership) of the type of vehicles you prefer (make and/or model), this will save both you and the salesperson time. Furthermore, a vehicle is a long-term investment, you should pick one that you like.
Don’t be afraid to say no. If you don’t like a car, or you want to take your business elsewhere don’t be afraid to say so. The dealership needs your money more than you need their vehicle! There are plenty of other places to purchase a vehicle that price their vehicles competitively. By doing this, you can optimize your time, and save yourself future regret.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price of the vehicle you want to purchase. Your research should indicate to you what the fair market value is for the vehicle you are pursuing. You can use this information to help you negotiate the cost of the vehicle. If you have a trade-in vehicle, you can also use this to reduce the cost of the vehicle you wish to purchase.
How to Maximize Your Discounts with a Trade-in Vehicle
Do not mention your trade-in (if you have one) upfront, wait until you have chosen a vehicle, and negotiated the price a bit with the salesperson. Once you and the salesperson agree on a satisfactory price, you should mention your trade-in, further reducing your cost. If you mention your trade-in prior to this point, you will not receive as great a discount. The salesperson, if they have knowledge of your trade-in, will not be as flexible during negotiations as they know you will have an additional reduction.
Know The Condition of the Title
When you purchase a car, you need to consider the condition of the title. A ‘salvaged’ title indicates a vehicle that was involved in an auto accident, or was otherwise considered ‘totaled’. These vehicles will not perform as well as those with clean titles, and their resale value is significantly less than that of a clean titled vehicle.
Don’t Purchase any Add-ons Directly From the Dealership
If you purchase your vehicle through a dealership, you should not purchase any add-ons at this stage. If you do, the price of these add-ons will be included in your auto loan, which means you will also pay interest on them; paying more over time than if you were to purchase them from a third-party.
Furthermore, if the vehicle you purchase still has the manufacturer’s warranty on it, you may not need to purchase any add-ons. However, if no warranty applies to your vehicle you may want to consider purchasing an extended warranty. You can also deposit the money you would have spent on this add-on into a savings account reserved specifically for auto repairs.
When Purchasing a Used Vehicle Have A Mechanic Review It
If you are buying a used vehicle, you should have the vehicle looked over by an experienced mechanic before finalizing the purchase. Choose a mechanic that is unaffiliated with the selling party. The mechanic will be able to locate any unusual wear and tear and let you know the exact condition of the vehicle prior to your purchase.