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.