9 Worst Mistakes People Make Buying a Car

Buying a new car is always a tricky experience. Everyone looks for different things in a car, and it can be hard to find a car that has all the features you want. Once you find the car you want, you then have to deal with all the financial aspects of buying it. You may also have to deal with pushy salespeople. Because of all this, it’s common for people to make mistakes when buying a car. They may not do enough research and end up paying more than they should. Or, they may end up with a car that isn’t exactly what they want. If you’re thinking about buying a new car soon, here are nine mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

1) Not Doing Your Research

Before you step foot in the dealership, you should spend a good amount of time researching cars. Many people make the mistake of waiting until they get to the dealership to start thinking about the type of car they want. If you do this, it will be much easier for the salesperson to push you into making a bad decision. Today, it’s easier than ever to research car models and pricing. Spend some time on websites like Edmunds or Kelly Blue Book. Research a wide variety of cars that have the features you’re looking for, and be sure to look at the reviews and pricing on them. Then, once you’re armed with this knowledge, you can head to the dealership and start the process of buying your dream car.


2) Only Shopping at one Dealership

Another common mistake many people make is shopping at just one dealership. When you do this, you’ll have far fewer options to choose from. You also won’t as much leverage when you’re negotiating. It’s a good idea to visit at least three dealerships, but you don’t have to visit all these places in person. Instead, try simply visiting many different dealerships’ websites. Make note of the prices of cars you’re interested in and look at reviews of those cars. Then, decide which of the dealerships you want to visit in person. When you go to the dealership, be sure to tell them that you’re looking at many different dealerships and you haven’t decided who you’re going with yet. This will help give you the upper-hand when you begin your negotiations.


3) Giving Into ‘Feature Creep’

It’s easy to get enchanted by new, modern car features, and you may feel like you need to have them in your life. There’s even a term for this—feature creep. What Feature creep means is when add-ins that should be optional suddenly feel necessary. For example, maybe you walked into the dealership thinking any old seats would do, but then once you realized some models have heated seats, you suddenly feel like not having those will be a deal-breaker. Even if these seats are out of your budget, you don’t care—you’ll buy them anyway. To avoid this, write down a list of features you must have before you go to the dealership. Then, don’t let yourself stray from this list, no matter how tempting those new and shiny features are.


4) Not Doing a Thorough Test-Drive

Many people don’t realize how important the test-drive is when they’re buying a car. A test-drive is your one chance to get a feel for how a car handles and meets your needs. It’s also a chance to see if you feel comfortable behind the wheel. For example, if you have young kids, you can inspect the back rows during the test-drive and see if it will be easy for your kids to get into them. Many people get nervous during the test-drive and allow the salesperson to direct them where to go. However, to really get a feel for how the car will work for you, you should call the shots during the test-drive. You should decide which roads to drive on, and you should spend as much time as you want inspecting the interior of the car. This way, you’ll truly know if this car is the right choice for you.


5) Not Thinking About Financing Until You’re at the Dealership

When you’re searching for a new car, you may get focused on finding a car with the right features and forget to think about the financial aspects. You might simply wait until you get the dealership to deal with that part of buying a car. This is a mistake that many people make. To get the best deal, you’ll want to think about financing before you step foot in the dealership. If you wait until you get to the dealership, they may offer you a payment plan with very high interest rates. Before you head out to look at cars, talk to your bank and try to get pre-approved for a car loan. Then, when you’re at the dealership, you can tell the salesperson the interest rate your bank is offering you. You can then see if the dealership will match this rate or even give you a lower rate.


6) Buying New When Used Would Be Better

Many car buyers only look at new vehicles when they’re car shopping. However, before you settle on a new car, it’s a good idea to look at used ones too. Buying a used car can save you tons of money. If you’re worried that a used car will have too many issues, try focusing on Certified Pre-Owned models. These cars typically have low mileage and no significant damage. Most Certified Pre-Owned cars will also come with a detailed vehicle inspection, and they may have an updated powertrain warranty. Certified Pre-Owned cars are almost as good as new, and you can get them for a much cheaper price than new models. Before you settle on a new car, look at some gently used cars, and see if you can find one that works for you.


7) Focusing Only on the Monthly Payment

Many people focus on getting the lowest monthly rate possible for their car payments. If you do this, though, you may end up paying more in the long-run. Car salespeople will be happy to offer you a lower monthly rate since it means you’ll end up paying more interest over time. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying more than the vehicle is worth. To avoid this, be sure to do the math before you agree on financing terms. Figure out how much interest you’d be paying on the car each month and calculate how this adds up over time. Then, use this information to figure out how much you really should pay each month. When you do this, you’ll ensure that you’re not overpaying for your car.


8) Negotiating in Person

If you find negotiating in person intimidating, you’re not alone. Negotiating is especially tough at car dealerships, where you’ll have to deal with salespeople who are trained in negotiation tactics. Because of this, many people get talked into bad deals while they’re at the dealership. Luckily, today you don’t have to do your negotiating in person—you can do it over email. If you see a car you like online, email the dealership and tell them you’re interested and the price you want to pay. They may try to get you to come down to the dealership to discuss it further, but be forceful and say you’ll only discuss the price in an email. Only go to the dealership once you’ve agreed on the price and you have that price in writing. When you negotiate online, you’ll be able to control the negotiation much more than you would in person.


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