Next up, car buying tips: Buying a car, no matter if it is your first or not, if it was brand new or a used one, is one of those important emotional stages of life. Being happy and excited about this achievement; being able to purchase your own vehicle! But this can also make you nervous and worried about making the right choice. Before you go buying your next vehicle, take a look at our best tips for buying cars (new & used!).
Tips for buying a car
When it comes to buying a car, especially if it’s your first, it is normal to be afraid of being wrong making a bad investment that you’d regret later.
That’s why it’s important to make a good plan, to buy a car according to your budget. You should pay more attention to certain details and manage your time making researches, in order to make a wise decision that leaves you with a smile on your face and a feeling of satisfaction knowing you did something right.
Should I buy a new or a used car?
The first thing to decide is whether you want to buy a new car or a used one (second-hand). This decision will depend not only on your budget, but also on what you are looking for in a vehicle; its options and functionality, long-term investment and savings, whether it is a reliable vehicle with less probability of malfunctioning and breaking down, and so on.
Tips For Buying A New Car
- Search and compare prices to get the best possible offer; compare models, prices, and offers of various dealers.
- Be prepared to negotiate the price of the vehicle. Some dealers may be willing to bargain on their profit margin in September and October, the time they get next year’s models (and want to get rid of the old ones!). This margin is often 10-20%.
- If you are financing, also shop around for the best interest rate on your car loan. This could be directly through the dealer or through a bank.
- If the dealer does not have the car you want, consider ordering it from them. This may involve a delay in delivery, however, dealers often want to sell their inventory quickly. So if the dealer has a car that meets your needs, you may be able to negotiate for a suitable deal.
- Sometimes dealers offer very low rate financing for some specific models or cars, but they may not be willing to negotiate the price. While you will likely benefit from the special interest rates, it will require you to pay a higher amount upfront. Under these conditions, you may find that sometimes it is more convenient to pay higher finance charges on a car that has a lower price or buy a car that requires a lower down payment.
- Before signing a purchase contract or financing, consider the terms of the financing and evaluate if it is within your budget. Before leaving the dealer or driving your new car, be sure to take a copy of the contract you and the dealer signed and make sure all the fields are properly filled.
Many people opt for a new car just because of that “new car smell”. This is not to say that they literally buy a brand new car just because it smells good, but that the car is perfectly intact, straight from the dealer, and we are absolutely sure it’s in perfect condition. In new cars of the latest models, we have the luxury of choosing the exterior color (sometimes also the interior) and selecting certain features and equipment to suit our personal tastes.
All these reasons are completely valid and understandable. However, it is important not to forget that as soon as you drive off the lot, the price of your new car is going to drop down by around 30%, depending on the brand and its commercial demand.
Tips for buying a used car
With this knowledge of depreciation in mind, many people choose to buy a used car instead, whether from the owner, a car lot or the same dealer in the “pre-owned cars” section.
First and foremost, get to know the value of the vehicle. Before you buy, search the net value of the car you wish to purchase. You can use newspapers, guide books like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds, insurance companies, etc. The vehicle’s condition, mileage, its age, equipment levels and even your geographic region are all factors that affect the value of the vehicle. You need to consider these factors when negotiating with the seller.
Also you need to put the following points in mind:
- Look into the vehicle’s history. Ask the seller for some details about the previous owners, and the use and maintenance that the vehicle has received.
- Check the joints of doors and if the fenders are flush and straight, as well as the hood and trunk. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth it.
- Apply a magnet to all metal parts: if the magnet doesn’t stick, it’s likely that the part was filled to cover some damage or rust.
- The paint color must be uniform.
- Examine the inside of the trunk, behind the wheels and under the hood, looking for any damage to the body that might be hidden.
- Look under the car chassis; if you see welded joints, the car was probably repaired after an accident.
- Check the interior; note that the upholstery and dashboard are in good condition, the seats adjust easily and the electrical system and dashboard indicators are functioning properly. If the carpet smells musty or has signs of standing water, the car was probably flooded and may have suffered damage to different parts of the body.
- Check for any signs of oil or fuel leaks or loose wires. This usually means that the vehicle has been poorly maintained.
- Make sure the engine starts easily on the first try and pay attention to strange noises, rattling, clunking, engine squeals, etc. as this would indicate some damage in the engine, which can be very expensive to repair.
- Put the car in drive and make sure the engine has enough power and shifts smoothly.
- Stop at various times and at different speeds, so you know if the vehicle can react correctly in time.
Buying a used car from a private seller can usually get you more accessible prices. But there is the risk of possible fraud (with respect to the car or its condition). This option is more likely to succeed when you know the seller, know what mechanical elements check to make sure everything is in order, or if you are able to take it to a specialist workshop to get checked out before you buy and while researching to make sure the car is not stolen and hasn’t been reported in any illegal acts.
When you buy from a used car lot, generally, the prices will go up, but it also reduces the potential for fraud because the owners of the lot usually do some research before buying cars for resale. If you choose this option, it’s important to make sure it’s a serious and well-established business with some goodwill; i.e. not a place that will disappear overnight (with your down payment).
Perhaps the best way to buy a used car is going to the pre-owned section of a car dealership. Vehicles that are offered as pre-owned usually cost 5-10% more than if they were sold by the owner, but this comes with a number of safeguards. The dealership is responsible for researching that the car is in good condition, that it wasn’t stolen, the engine and electrical equipment work correctly, and that is has all its documents in order. In many cases, these vehicles still are covered under the factory warranty and the car dealership could say that almost smell like new again.
Five tips for buying any car
- Be very clear about your budget. If you buy a car with financing, make sure it is within your ability to pay. Don’t get carried away. Be realistic.
- Think about what you need: if you will be driving alone or have a large family, if you what you really care about it is the interior or trunk space, and so on.
- Are you interested in power or performance? If you want to drive mainly in the city, it won’t really matter if it has a powerful engine that can accelerate and respond faster, the most important is that its engine is economical and fuel efficient.
- Compare the relationship between what benefits it offers and what it costs.
- Research, either in magazines or asking drivers directly, how good each model really is.
With these tips for buying a car, new or used, you’re well on your way to making a smarter decision that will have you driving a car you love for many years to come, at a price that fits your budget.