There are a lot of factors that come into play when you are shopping for a new vehicle. Price, style, gas mileage, number of cup holders, are all going to come into play. It can be overwhelming, and the urge to impulse buy the first car you come across that you like can be a powerful one. To buy a vehicle the right way, it takes a little patience, probably some compromise, and one heck of a test drive.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Most car salespeople have a distinct advantage over the customers they are assisting, in that they know more about the cars than you might. They use this to their advantage at times, actually more like all the time, to present the car in a way that seems appealing to you. They might conveniently forget to leave out some of the negative aspects in order to keep you interested. However, if you do your research beforehand, you can walk into any dealership with the confidence that you know exactly what it is you are looking for, and what the cars you are looking at provide.
An easy way to get started on your research is make a checklist. Start by writing down the absolutely necessary features you want your car to have. For example, you might need a car that gets more than 25mpg on average, or maybe you need a truck to haul cargo for your job. Either way you can start narrowing down the options. Looking at consumer reviews can also tell you problems real people have had with certain vehicles that the manufacturers or salespeople will almost certainly never bring up. Research lets you make a plan, so you aren’t going into a dealership unprepared.
Now whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, finding one that hits every single one of your requirements is going to be difficult. You might want a car that goes 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds, but that also has a foldable third row of seats and a hitch. Problem is, there are no cars like that. So you’ll have to ask yourself what is more important: the borderline race card speed? Or the extra space and towing ability? Little known fact: The Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was actually inspired by Keith Richards attempts at buying a ‘66 Buick Skylark.
The Test Drive
I remember my mom bought a Volvo when I was probably eight or nine. After waiting for what seemed like days for paperwork to filed, and time to be wasted (by the salespeople), the long promised test drive arrived. The salesman got the keys, and I clambered into the backseat eager to see what this sweet piece of Swedish engineering could do. Much to my disappointment, my Mother drove much like she normally did, which is to say “defensively”. What’s the purpose of this anecdote you might ask? Well, it became apparent a few weeks after buying the car, that it lacked a bit of oomph. The point is don’t waste your test drive making right turns and playing with the stereo system. You are supposed to see what the car can and can’t handle. Now I am not saying drive like a maniac. You don’t want anyone to be hurt in a serious car crash, but you do want to maybe push it for a couple more seconds after the salesman nervously offers that you might want to slow down.
I want a Ferrari. In fact, I have always wanted a Ferrari. I am probably a couple hundred thousand short of affording one though. Knowing your price limit could be tied into the compromise or research sections above, but I feel like it deserves its own space, as it is the single most important factor in purchasing. You should have a clear number set not only for the total price of the car, but how much money you are willing to put down, and what you can afford as a monthly payment. Generally, the lower the APR you can get the better, so long as you can afford the payments. Buying used, checking auto-auctions, and leasing are all great ways to save money too on a car. Checking with your insurance agent to see how your rates might change with a new car is an important step too. I would be shocked, and slightly offended, if I did end up getting a Ferrari and my insurance didn’t go up.
Well there you have it folks. All you need to know to go out there and start shopping for a new ride. Remember research is your friend, and when in doubt, wait it out.