7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Car

April 23rd, 2023 by

Buying a car is a significant expense- it’s probably the second-most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. But buying a car can evoke a mixture of emotions- it can be a terrifying prospect or an exciting adventure, and it can also be an anxious or thrilling experience. Nonetheless, it’s vital to be smart in your decision-making process. From researching the right car to finding the best deal, there are several opportunities to make a mistake that could leave you with buyer’s remorse or cost you additional money. Keep reading to learn more about mistakes to avoid when buying a car.

Key Takeaways:

  • Doing your homework ahead of time could save you from making mistakes that might cost a lot of money. 
  • Getting preapproved makes you an attractive buyer and can help you secure better loan rates and terms. 
  • Keep emotions out of the car-buying transaction and don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal.

Not Getting Preapproved Financing

Getting preapproved for an auto loan can help you identify any credit issues before going to the dealership. Preapproved financing can also provide other advantages, including:

  • It might simplify dealership negotiations by allowing you to focus on the out-the-door price
  • It offers you the opportunity to set up your loan with the right down payment and loan term
  • It can serve as a bargaining chip in getting the dealer to offer better rates.

Not Knowing What Your Trade-In Value is

It can be a costly mistake if you’re planning to trade in your current car and haven’t taken the time to find out its current market value. That’s because you may decide to take the first offer you get, and you’ll probably leave money on the table. And when it comes to trading in your vehicle, there are various aspects to consider: How old is the car? Is it in good condition? How many miles does it have on it? Fortunately, finding your car’s value isn’t as complicated as it may seem. For instance, you can visit kbb.com and follow the prompts to enter your car’s information. It’ll then provide estimates for trade-in value and private party value, which is the average amount you can expect to receive if you sold the car on your own. Alternatively, you can get different quotes from various dealerships on your car’s trade-in value and compare them. Having these details can help you negotiate the best price for your trade-in. 

Falling in Love with a Model

When you’re considering spending tens of thousands of dollars on a car, don’t allow emotions to rule the day. Becoming infatuated with a single model could blind you to alternative cars that might be better for your needs or make you skimp on thoroughly researching a car’s reviews, ratings, pricing, and safety information. To determine the best car for you, you should set emotions aside and focus on doing your due diligence, comparing different models, and evaluating your real needs and wants. There’ll be plenty of time for emotions after you’ve bought the car!

Skipping a Thorough Drive Test

When you spot a car you want to buy, it’s only natural to want to get behind the wheel for the test drive. But if you simply take it out for a quick spin, you might miss crucial performance issues. Checking out the stereo is fun! Kicking the tires is cliche! Seeing how fast the vehicle accelerates is exciting! However, if you’re going to have this car for the next few years, ensure that it’ll fit your driving patterns and lifestyle. So, take your time, plan your route, and conduct a thorough test drive. And while you’re at it, pay attention to braking, controls, heating, seat comfort, leg room, and handling on a variety of road types.

Not Getting an Inspection

Getting to know a vehicle’s history is essential for learning a car’s past. While that’s vital, you also need an expert to evaluate the car’s condition. As such, you should find an independent mechanic who doesn’t work for the dealer. Note that while that might cost you between $100-$200 when you consider the fact that you might be spending 100 times that amount on the car, the benefits of a quality inspection are well worth the cost.  

Focusing on the Monthly Payment Only

So many car buyers approach the financing conversation by asking how much they can afford to pay every month. But that’s the wrong question. If you’re trying to get a lower monthly payment, finance companies can offer you a lower rate, but for a longer loan term. And while that could provide the lower payment you’re looking for, it could cost you thousands of dollars in additional interest over the loan lifespan. So, instead of negotiating the monthly payment, you should focus on the total price. Once the total price is as low as possible, then you can negotiate the term length to get the payment you want. And when the final deal is reached, ensure that you double-check the paperwork to make sure the financial details are exactly what you discussed. 

Being Afraid to Walk Away

You don’t have to close the deal the day you enter the dealership. Shoppers who keep their options open and visit several dealerships are in a far better position to negotiate. Ultimately, shopping around will help you feel more comfortable walking away if negotiations aren’t going to plan. So, take your time researching comparable cars, visiting dealerships to view inventory, and securing financing. If you can show the salesperson other cars you’re considering, you can use those alternatives to strengthen your position. To avoid this car-buying mistake, don’t settle for one option when researching a car to buy. Select three or four cars that you’d like to buy and compare them. 

Avoid These Car-Buying Mistakes!

There’s a lot that goes into car buying, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Preparation and research should be your friends. Also, don’t go to the dealership before being preapproved for a loan, and keep in mind that there’s more to a car than its monthly payment. To learn more about mistakes to avoid when buying a car, consult our auto experts today!

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