Buying a car can be one of the most intimidating experiences in life. But it doesn’t have to be!
Preparation is the key! Do your research; know what you want, and most importantly what you can afford!
You may be tempted to first find the vehicle you want and then figure out how to pay for it later.
Any loan can have an affordable monthly payment if you extend the term long enough, but that can add significantly to the total cost of the car.
Focus on the total amount financed rather than on the monthly payment alone! Provide as much cash up front to avoid the car being worth less than the loan.
There is a large part of the car-buying population who won’t even consider buying a new car. In fact, used car sales outnumber new car sales three to one!
Buying slightly used is the best choice for many for the following reasons:
- Someone else has taken the depreciation. The latest figures from CNW Marketing Research indicate that the average transaction price on a new car in 2008 was $25,536.00. The average used car transactions was $8,244.00!
- Warranty. With a car that is only 1 or 2 years old, the manufacture warranty is transferable to a second owner, usually at no charge.
- Leases are readily available. Most reputable car brokers offer leases similar to the ones offered for a new car.
- Pay cash or take a shorter term loan so you can pay your car off quickly. Pay a little extra each month, this will save you interest!
- No less value. Thanks to engineering strides, vehicles have never been more durable and maintenance-free.
Here is a check list to use after you have chosen the make and model car you both can afford and truly want:
- Researching the asking price.
- How much to finance the vehicle? What interest rate will you pay?
- How much is insurance?
- Check into purchasing a Warranty.
- Obtain a Car History Report.
- Interview the prospective sellers before meeting them.
- Check the undercarriage, engine and body for rust or damage.
- Look for overspray on the car – some accidents and repairs don’t always show on the history report.
- Check the interior – if there is low mileage and the interior is worn, it tells you how the car was treated. If there is high mileage and the interior looks new, the car has probably been maintained.
- Check the overall paint job – if there is one section in pristine condition compared to the others, it’s a good indication that part of the vehicle was repaired.
- Look for signs of rust, including under the hood and undercarriage.
- Inspect the tires for wear. Use a penny, “If you see Abe’s head, there is not enough tread!”
- Check the oil for the proper level and color.
- Check the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion.
- Test the brakes – listen for noise like metal grinding on metal.
- Test drive on the highway to gauge acceleration and handling.
- After the test drive, inspect the engine for leaks, odors or smoke.
- Request and review the service records, receipts and title.
- Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle.
Many of us have been “sold” on something we really didn’t want to buy. Or we have been “sold” on a car that didn’t suit our needs and lifestyle as we planned. By preparing, and using the Internet to research, you can walk into the Car Dealership with confidence!