No one wants to feel taken advantage of when it comes to buying a new or used car or truck. That’s a simple fact of life. Unfortunately, making such a large purchase can leave you open to all sorts of predatory sales practices- from loan financing to faulty vehicles to extended warranties that don’t cover what they’re supposed to cover, and everything in between. Obviously, defending yourself against such practices is tough, but there are a few checks and balances in place that will make your car buying experience much more pleasant, and your vehicle ownership experience far, far more enjoyable.
Doing research is the most important aspect of the car buying experience. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t go to the trouble. Thus, when they are actually on the dealer’s lot, it’s easy for salespeople to lead them into cars or trucks that may not be appropriate. Spend some time on the internet at such sites as motortrend.com and Edmunds.com to familiarize yourself with the vehicles that are available that fit your needs. Some of These sites will also provide you with a basic look at what such vehicles might cost you, but that’s MSRP, not retail, so don’t make a decision based solely on those sites.
New and Used car pricing is set at one level from the manufacturer, but that’s rarely the price you’ll pay from the dealership. That’s not to say that the MSRP is artificially high, but it is usually pretty high, and gives the company room to offer special sales and incentives at certain times of the year. These sales are pretty carefully planned, so don’t assume that they’re done without intent. For instance, most manufacturers do clearance sales on their vehicles from the previous model year when the next model year is revealed. The sales are generally pretty good, and with some savvy shopping, you can snag a new vehicle for thousands of dollars below invoice price.
Longevity of the vehicle is an aspect of the car ownership experience that sometimes gets overlooked by owners. We assume that new cars will last for years without problems, and we also assume that because a vehicle has run for 100,000 miles without problems, that it will continue to do so in the future. All cars have a finite life span, and regardless of how well you or the previous owner took care of the vehicle, the components and assemblies that constitute the vehicle structure and mechanical components are subject to wear and breakage at any point. That’s why new cars have warranties. When you have a used car, you’re more or less at the mercy of the seller’s word as to the roadworthiness of the vehicle.
Certified used vehicles are typically more expensive than non-certified counterparts, but that warranty, regardless of how short it might be, is an important clue as to how willing the dealership is to stand behind the vehicle. It just means that it’s been thoroughly looked over, reconditioned as necessary, and then slapped with a short warranty. It’s a good way to go, and worthwhile if you’re in the market for a used car.
These tips certainly aren’t exhaustive, and it’s always possible, of course, to get into a vehicle that just won’t be right, no matter how much research you do. If you do your homework, though, and keep yourself away from deals that sound too good to be true, then chances are you’ll be in a much better position after a few years of vehicle ownership, and you won’t regret your purchase nearly as much!