Purchasing a new vehicle can be both exciting and stressful. There are dozens of manufacturers with hundreds of models, and it seems like a million dealers are competing for your business. If you hit the road unprepared, you could end up being taken for a bumpy ride and paying more than you should. Here’s some advice on ensuring your car buying experience is free of any potholes:
1. KNOW YOUR NEEDS
Why are you looking for a new set of wheels and what do you hope to accomplish with your vehicle? If you’re a soccer mom with carpooling duties, you’ll need something bigger than a convertible. If you have a long commute to and from work every day, you’ll want to avoid a gas-guzzling SUV. Live in the city and looking to park in tight spots? Avoid the larger sedans. Also, be realistic about the level of luxury you can afford. A European sports car might be fun to drive, but not if you can’t afford to put any gas in it. There are so many vehicle styles and options available – don’t settle for something that isn’t exactly what you are looking for. Once you identify your needs, your search should be a lot easier.
2. RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH!
It’s so important that we have to say it three times. By visiting our blog, you are already on the road to success. Now, take a ride on the information superhighway and check out the many websites dedicated to automobiles. Car manufacturer websites allow you to customize vehicles virtually and decide which features you can add to your new car while keeping it in your price range. Websites like autotrader.com can also provide a lot of information about new and used cars. Pay special attention to consumer satisfaction ratings and MSRP. You should also consult your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers about your vehicle search. Look for recommendations – both good and bad – and pay attention to horror stories. If you keep up with our blog, you’ve seen the huge variety of problems that can turn a new car into a total nightmare.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR FINANCES
Before you enter the dealer, you should know your credit score. Traditionally, folks with higher credit scores are offered lower interest rates. One mistake many folks make is having a certain monthly payment in mind. Don’t negotiate a monthly payment amount, negotiate the price of the car. Negotiate your trade in value. Negotiate your interest rate. Once you have all the pieces of the puzzle complete, you then will have an idea of what the monthly payment should look like. And don’t hesitate to walk away if the deal is not to your liking. There’s always another dealer ready for your business.
4. TRY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT
Obviously, you should test drive your car before you leave the lot with it. But what about trying the air conditioner, radio, sunroof, windshield wipers, etc. ? Make sure you try every single component of the car you are planning to buy before you sign on the dotted line. If something does not work properly, bring it to the dealer’s attention immediately and DO NOT SIGN THE SALES CONTRACT UNTIL THE MATTER IS ADDRESSED. This is your one chance to demand perfection. Make the most of it.
5. NEVER PURCHASE A USED CAR WITHOUT A MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY
If your used car is “certified pre-owned”, make sure the certification came from the manufacturer rather than a dealership and make sure any car you buy comes with the remainder of a manufacturer’s warranty. The manufacturer’s warranty will cover maintenance and repairs at authorized dealerships, which are staffed with specially trained mechanics and other professionals so you can ensure your car is being treated properly. Authorized dealerships also have access to recalls and technical service bulletins. Most importantly, Federal breach of warranty laws, such as the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, only apply to vehicles that are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
6. FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS
It’s very important that you understand your consumer rights under State and Federal laws. If your car has been out of service repeatedly or for an extended period of time, you may be entitled to a cash settlement, a vehicle buyback, or a brand new car. If you feel you may have a vehicle which falls under the Lemon law or if you have any questions pertaining to your rights, feel free to fill out our Get Rid of Your Lemon form. We will review your situation and get back to you promptly.
Car buying can be a great deal of fun and hopefully, you will find the perfect ride for you and your family. Just remember, an educated consumer is an effective consumer. Happy shopping!