When people get asked about their experiences buying a car from a dealer and their biggest fears about the process, you often hear things around these lines:
I am not good at negotiation, and I fear I might get ripped off.
The reason why many people feel this way is not necessarily because dealers are some fraudsters wanting to take advantage of you. It’s because, for most people, buying a car is a big investment, which is why they want to make sure they get their money’s worth. After all, the average cost for a new car in the U.S. revolves around $37,000, and the average cost of a three-year-old used one sits around $22,000 – quite a significant lump of money.
One thing that can help ease off this fear of getting ripped off is knowing a bit more about the process of buying a car, or more precisely, about things you need to avoid. Learning to spot red flags will help you feel more prepared and ready to talks business with a dealer that has your best interest at heart.
So, without further ado, here are the mistakes and traps you need to avoid when purchasing a car, whether it’s new or used.
A prince that is too good to be true
People tend to focus too much on the price and not think whether or not they purchased a car that suits their needs. This is why, when they see a bargain, they are willing to compromise and give up on their wants for a price that seems way below the market.
Everyone wants to find a good deal, but when you see a car is dramatically under the market price, you may want to start asking questions. Ask the seller directly what made them consider such a low price, and observe their reaction. If they give out evasive answers, such as “I want to sell it fast.” or “I don’t really need the money.”, you may want to look somewhere else. Listen to your instinct and, if a deal feels a bit suspicious, don’t go through with it. You can end up with a car that has way more problems than the owner mentioned or worse, with your money gone.
Agreeing on unnecessary extras
Dealers will always want you to take a few more add-ons to increase the price of the vehicle, and they can be very persuasive. This is why it is important to assess your needs and only agree on stuff you know you want. Extras such as paint sealants, fabric protection, and corrosion protection may sound good on paper, but they are rarely worth the money. All of these things can be purchased for much less money later on, and are not things you must absolutely have.
Some dealers also try to sell you extended warranties. These may be good for cars that are less reliable, but for cars with a good record, these are usually not worth it. In fact, a survey revealed 55% of car owners who purchased extended warranty did not use it during the lifetime of the policy. Stick to the things you need, and if the dealer lists out new options, take the time to do some research before agreeing to throw them on.
If you consider purchasing a car from a private seller, make sure they are the real owners of the car. My advice would be to only do business with authorized dealers, to make sure you stay clear of any issues. Dealing with a shady seller just because the car was much cheaper than the market price is not worth the risk.
Use the internet to research the dealer and read reviews to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy person. A simple search for dealerships in Kansas City MO, for example, will reveal plenty of options to choose from.
If you do decide to deal with a private seller, makes sure you ask for all the necessary documentation. Ask for the title document, the seller’s driver’s license, as well as a second form of ID. Check that the name on the driver’s license matches the one on the tile, as well as if the photos of the IDs match. If you believe something may be off, don’t make the deal. Fraudsters have become incredibly good these days.
Buying the first car you see
You may think, if you like the car, what’s the point in looking any further? Well, if you don’t check the market, how do you know you actually made a good deal? Even if you feel this may be the best possible deal you can get, it’s always good to compare your options.
Do your homework before you go looking for cars in person, and make sure you schedule at least two visits in one day. It’s worth to have at least one other option to compare before deciding on a new purchase.
Be ready to sign the deal only when you have the answer to all the following questions:
- What are the terms of the lease or loan, if there is any?
- What is the actual price of the vehicle?
- How much is the deal going to cost you in total?
- Are the terms you received the best you could qualify for?
Setting your expectations too high
It’s good to know exactly what you want, but you also have to check and see if your expectations are reasonable in relationship with the market. They say the secret to happiness is to have no expectations, so that you don’t get disappointed, and we must admit there is some truth in this.
We don’t go on purchasing a new car too often, so we don’t exactly know everything about the buying process. That’s why we worry about getting the best possible car at the best possible price. And no matter how good of a discount we get, we always drive off thinking maybe we could have gotten a better deal.
Do your research, learn about the true costs of a car, and set realistic expectations. If you do all this, you can definitely find a good car at a good price.