Questions To Ask When Buying a Used Car

Questions To Ask When Buying a Used Car - Handing Keys to Customer

Have you ever wondered what questions to ask when buying a used car? Have you ever looked for advice? This is definitely an area where everyone has an opinion. Your dad says to buy something sensible. What does that mean? “I’ll take you shopping,” he says, “I know how to handle those guys”. How does he know? He’s an IT consultant that drives a 10-year-old car? But somehow, like a lot of people, he knows the best car for you and can find you the best deal.

How about your boss? He makes more money than you do and drives a BMW. He must know! But what you don’t know is, he bought his BMW because his wife just left him. He’s out looking for his next ex-wife and thinks the car is going to get her. Good shopping advice? Don’t think so.

There’s always someone on the treadmill at your health club that is an expert or at least knows one. “See that guy on the bench over there?” she says, “He has a new car every year.” You’ll think to yourself, how does he do it? Well, unfortunately, he always owes more on his cars than they are worth, but the bank continues to finance a new car every year, so he must be able to “afford” it.

Buying a car is something almost all of us have to do, and some people think they are really experts in the process. They know what's best for you and everyone else, why? Because they buy a car just like you every few years and they know how to negotiate?

The best person to advise you on a car purchase is you. You just need to ask yourself a few simple questions and avoid certain people and places. Here are five common questions as well as five big DON’T’s. These well thought out answers and areas to avoid can help you when buying a new or used car.

Let’s start with the questions to ask when buying a used car.

Q: How will I pay for this? (or) How much can I afford to put down and what monthly payment am I comfortable with?

A: 84% of people buying cars today are financing. The reason? They want a dependable car that won’t let them down and, like most of us, they don’t want to invest the cash they have in a depreciating asset. Once you put that $8,000 down that you saved it’s gone. You can’t get it back without selling the car. Why not put a portion of it down and save the rest for a rainy day?

Q: How many miles a year do I drive?

A: Having a ballpark figure can help you decide whether or not a limited lease mile makes sense or if a purchase is a better fit in your situation. Do you have a long daily commute? Do you like or need to take road trips? Good gas mileage should always be a consideration as well.

Q: How much room do I need?

A: This will depend on if you have a big family (van/large SUV) or it's just you and some friends at times (compact car/sedan). Consider your transporting needs as well (groceries, dog, larger items). All of these considerations will help determine the size of vehicle that is right for you.

Q: How long am I going to keep this car?

A: This is the question everyone forgets to ask, for whatever reason. If the answer is just a few years, maybe you should lease a new car. If its over five years, buy a car with low miles and a good warranty.

Q: What do I like?

A: This sounds silly, but you should like whatever you buy. I know a lot of people who don’t like what they bought. You should like your car enough that when you see it in a parking lot it brings a smile to your face.

Now for the five DON’T’S.

DON’T go to any seller that provides its own financing or a so-called “Buy Here, Pay Here” type of business. Their cars are typically junk. The only reason to ever go to one of these lots is if your credit score is below 500.

DON’T rush. Time is on your side. There are plenty of cars, trucks, and dealers out there. Don’t make a one-hour mistake that you have to pay for the next five years.

DON’T choose a dealer that negotiates. This may sound weird at first, I know. These days finding a one-price dealer to buy your car or truck from means they typically price their cars competitively up-front so there is no pressure and no haggling.

DON’T fall for the “Memorial Day” or “End of the Month” sale. All vehicles are on “sale” all the time. Prices don’t vary that drastically from dealer to dealer or day to day. Some simple online research will confirm this.

DON’T be bullied by anyone. That includes the person who is going to prepare your paperwork for you, typically called the finance manager or business manager. Many of these people operate with fear tactics, so be prepared ahead of time.

And there you have it. Hopefully, these few tips will help get you through your next vehicle purchase.

What Is The Best Time of Year To Buy A Car

Many people ask, “When is the best time of year to buy a car?” Here’s a list of some answers I have gotten, along with a count of those days.
Any three-day holiday weekend, which at this point seem never-ending. Take for instance Presidents Day, which used to be George Washington’s birthday but became more popularly known as Presidents Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act. That also includes Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day.  All of these have become great car selling weekends that also include perks like hot dogs and balloons. In all this encompasses about 20 sale days.
What is the Best Time of Year To Buy A Car
Then throw in the other non-three day weekend holidays which are another excuse for dealers to have sale events. St. Patrick’s Day, which gives all the salesmen an excuse to wear a silly green T-shirt.  Or Valentine’s Day, “find the car you love.”  Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, to get a gift for that special someone.  Cinco de Mayo, which is the celebration of Mexico’s independence but another great reason to lower prices and wear sombrero’s.  Don't forget our Independence Day weekend where the salesmen get to wear red, white and blue top hats. That’s 28 more days.
It’s a Mardi Gras savings event, which should only matter in New Orleans but the rest of the country seems to like it, and the salesmen get to wear beads.  Ground Hog Day “If he sees his shadow its six more weeks of low prices.” Armed Forces Day gives us a chance to celebrate the men and women serving our country by giving them an extra thousand dollars for their trade. That adds another 16 days to our total.
Some of the less popular holidays are still an excellent reason to have a sale and dress the salesmen in goofy stuff. These could include Halloween, Arbor Day, Bosses Day, Election Day, Flag Day, Grandparents Day, Secretary’s Day.  You get the picture. That’s enough for holiday sales, how about “End of the month blowouts”?  Each last about five days and there are 12 of them, so tack on 60 additional days. 
Don’t forget the "end of the model year" sales. With new cars coming in they must make room.  I think the salesmen just wear their regular clothes on those days, but that’s good for another five days.  We also must consider the end of the year when dealers are forced to liquidate inventory or pay hefty taxes.  Don’t understand that one but five more days of discounts like you’ve never seen.
In all, that’s 154 days of potential discounts.  That doesn’t take into account “The boss is out of town so were pricing them low” or “Moonlight Madness” sales where they stay open until midnight.  In Colorado, dealerships are closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s 81 days a year.  Add that to the 154 sale days, and that’s 255 days of a 365-day year. So, in theory, there are only about 110 days you can accidentally wander in and pay too much. So what’s the real answer to the question?  The best time for you or anyone to buy a new or used car or truck is the day you are ready.  Some more important and relevant questions to ask may be:
  • Have you done your research?
  • Have you driven a few different makes and models to see how comfortable you are behind the wheel?
  • Does the car have enough room for your family, but not so much that you are wasting room?
  • Are you happy with the gas mileage this car gets?
  • How long do you plan on owning this car?
These are the real questions you need to ask prior to purchasing a car.
Maybe a better question is “when is the wrong time to buy a car?”  We have outlined 155 days a year that may be a bad time.  Why? Because there is no such thing as a sale.  A car dealer wants to sell a car every day, and if they don’t, you should not be working with them.  Dealers are there to represent their product and sell it for the market price every day.  There are too many people that have fallen for the “Big Sale” and regretted it the entire time they have owned the car.
Captivated by the lies told to them by the salespeople and managers at the dealership; they went out looking for a deal that didn’t exist, then talked themselves into something they didn't want or need.  They listened to the advice of someone they didn’t even know, someone that profits from the sale whether it is good for the buyer or not.
The average length of time a car salesman is employed at a dealership is nine months, which is not enough time to become expert in advising you how to spend your money. So, decide what car or truck is best for you, do your shopping online.  The best deal is the one that you can be happy with the entire time you own the car.

How to Buy a Car Online and Have it Delivered

For years consumers have longed for a way to purchase a new or used car or truck without having to go to an auto dealership.  Auto dealers have disguised their selling techniques in an attempt to convince consumers that their process’ had changed, but the truth is they haven’t.
Retail has seen a dramatic shift in recent years. Where you once visited the store for consumer goods, now almost anything can be delivered without you getting off the couch. The cause of this change, the Internet. 
Although the consumer side of the web has been around 20+ years, it’s really only in the last five years folks have felt comfortable shopping for almost everything, except cars.  So why aren’t we able to purchase a car online yet?  It’s not that the technology doesn’t exist, it has for some time.  The main reason is that most auto sales are based on deception, how much information can the dealer keep from the consumer and still have them buy a car.  However, online transparency is King, so dealers have resisted.  
How to Buy a Car Online and Have it Delivered
Sure you can shop for a car online, but all those advertisements are just reconfigured television, radio or newspaper ads.  Old media is alive and well in the car world. The tens of thousands that use to attend Auto Shows every year has dropped to mere thousands.  Taking a Saturday to go car shopping is a thing of the past.  Every detail of every new or used car is online for us to see, but we still have to go to a car dealer to buy one.
So, is there a way to buy a new car online and have it delivered? What about a used car?  One company has cracked the code, ClearShift.
ClearShift was founded on the principle that people do want to buy a car online.  It was modeled after great online retailers such as Amazon.  Similar to Amazon, at ClearShift there is no store to go shop at.  Today dealerships can cost $40 million, and who pays for that big beautiful building?  You and I, the consumers that buy there. 
At ClearShift cars are kept in inexpensive warehouses and storage lots to keep prices low, just like Amazon.  Detailed descriptions are available online with dozens of pictures.  ClearShift even places the inspection forms completed by certified technicians online for you to see.  Total transparency. 
ClearShift takes the next step that others don’t, the ability to actually buy the car online. Once you’ve decided on your vehicle, you enter your information in a secure web form. From there the experts at ClearShift go to work inspecting your trade-information to give the highest possible value.  They assess your credit sending it to the bank or credit union that will provide the lowest interest rate and you’re presented the lowest possible payment that fits your budget.
Now it's your turn to approve the terms of the sale. Online documents are prepared that can be signed on your computer or phone.  You won’t wait an hour to see the dealership's manager, only to have him spend another hour trying to sell you things you don’t want.  Once you’ve “signed” your electronic documents, you choose a time and location to have your new car delivered, and your trade picked up.  Whether you chose home, your workplace or even Starbucks, the vehicle you purchased online will be delivered by a product specialist.
You may ask “How do I get my paperwork?” The folks at ClearShift thought of that as well.  When you signed your documents you also opened your owner's web page; a page created for your car's information alone.  This page includes your paperwork, maintenance history and recommended future maintenance.  You’ll even receive notifications to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition.
You bought a car online and it took minutes not hours. You had as much or as little contact as desired. You weren’t chased around a lot by a salesman begging you to pay too much.  You bought an SUV online in the time you wanted to spend. You bought a truck armed with all the information you needed. You pulled the trigger when you felt comfortable.  The vehicle you bought online was delivered when and where you chose.
Congratulations, you just bought a car online!