The key to buying a car comes down to preparation and that relentless attitude to not settle. There's a secret science to getting yourself in the right frame of mind.
But that doesn't mean it has to be a daunting task. Buying a car can be fun and effortless when you have the right game-plan. Here are 10 tips to make buying a new (or simply new to you) car an easy and rewarding experience.
10 Keep It Real With Yourself
To make a vehicle purchase as painless as possible, one must start by answering a few questions. Ask yourself what will be the primary use of this vehicle? Who will be riding along? Will this vehicle spend hours on the highway and require stellar fuel economy performance? Does the car need to tow a substantial amount of weight? Is an electric vehicle a viable option?
Will this vehicle get banged up with daily commutes to the city and busy street parking? Can a kayak be mounted to the top securely and can the baby's car seat fit comfortably in the back? You also have to be able to ask the important question, how much money can be spent? The lines of affordability can easily become blurred when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle, but do your best to stay within a realistic budget.
With an incredible amount of information instantly available online, the consumer now has the comfort of being armed with knowledge. Take your time and look up the crash and safety ratings for the make and model of vehicle you are interested in. Figures like the five year cost of ownership could be key in determining what is practical. Remember, if you pay $10,000 for a car that is worth $50,000 when it first came out, those parts are still going to be priced for a $50,000 car.
In addition to expert reviews, take a dive into various car forums to see what everyday owners opine. You want to make sure you get the best possible value while also being able to avoid the lemons. Altogether, these ratings and sentiments can help you obtain the confidence and must needed peace of mind you need when making the big decision.
8 Ask Questions
Here's a big secret, nothing is more satisfying to a car-person than knowing the answer to a car-related question. Even if you don't have a question, have you ever noticed how people that are passionate about cars are always eager to tell you the things they know? Asking questions may be the way you find your perfect vehicular match. So be inquisitive, be curious, and be bold.
Ask the salesperson anything that pops into your mind, they get paid to answer your questions. The dealership may have the power to match and beat deals from their rivals and competitors, all you have to do is ask.
7 Be Open To Travel
Depending on where you live, your options on deals, equipment and packages available for the car you want could be severely limited. If you are ordering a car then there is no need to travel, but this will be costlier as dealers tend to give incentives to customers who buy from their current stock to manage their overhead.
Traveling throughout your state affords you better odds of finding the car that’s perfect for you. If, by chance, you find a car far off; that dealer may have a courier that can deliver the car to your door.
6 Use The Buddy System
A journey is always best experienced with a companion. Someone that laughs when you laugh can become a solid asset when purchasing a vehicle. Let's be frank, there's a lot of money at stake and when you drive off the lot you want to make sure you've made the right decision.
The most efficient way to do this is with someone who can help you think clearly and diffuse stress. A good friend could prevent you from getting that shiny hot rod with the massive mystery oil leak.
When shopping for a car, the easiest way to get the dealers to work for you is to wait for the right time. Shop around the end or beginning of the fiscal year. Dealers always want to make deals to either kick their year off or close out their year in good standing, plus there may be a surplus of inventory that needs to be moved in order to make way for newer models.
Look at a model before a body style change. Some people love to buy a popular car in short supply. If this is you, expect to pay more.
4 My Mama Told Me, "You Better Shop Around"
The key to getting what you want in life is leverage. That's the art of using the tools and spheres of influence you have for maximum advantage. The easiest way to get others to fight for your business is to shop around. Some dealers are kind enough to give you the keys to a vehicle with no strings attached for a quality test drive.
If that is the case, feel free to drive straight to a competitor's lot and really have the sales person there work for your money. That move would force them to pull out a better model for a more appealing rate, thus taking the pressure off you. The more options you have to choose from, the better your odds of selecting a car that fits you.
3 First To Try, First To Die
The true bargain hunter knows how to use the system to his or her advantage. They also know when to back away if the deal seems too good to be true or too green. When considering a newly released or massively overhauled car that's just beginning to hit the road, it's typically wise to wait a year or two.
During that time, the manufacturer is actively listening to the consumer and usually at work to smoothen out the rough edges. Manufacturers have improved their production quality significantly over the years. However, the first generations of some cars still will have their recalls, often get minor redesigns on the following iteration, or maybe even disappear altogether.
2 The Test Drive Hack
The test drive is very important in making the call to pull the trigger, so paying attention to the details is imperative. If it's a used car from a private owner, ask the owner to drive the car for you around the block. This allows you to note their driving habits. Check out their home, how well the yard is kept, what does the inside of their other vehicles look like? Sloppy habits may be telling of how someone treated their car over long periods of time. Now, you are ready to take the car for a spin.
Check out the characteristics that are important to you. If you value music, test the sound system, but then quickly turn it off to observe all the other road noises. Note the ride comfort, power under acceleration, check if the steering is affected by braking and verify that the car stops in a straight line. Make sure you turn every knob, flip every switch and sit in every seat. After getting to interact with the machine, you may be ready to make a solid purchase decision.
1 Trust Your Instincts
A good deal means different things to different people and if everything aligns for you then move forward with confidence. However, if you have doubts, sleep on it and keep searching. The key to an effortless car buying experience is just that.
Ultimately, your final decision will always include a certain level of emotion, but the more preparation you've put in, the less emotional and stressed your actual purchase will be. Now get out there and find a car that'll make you look back and grin whenever you walk away.