While it may seem like a fun idea if you have money in the bank (or even if you don’t, really), car shopping is not a good idea if you don’t know what you are looking for. Likewise, it is not good if you aren’t caught up on the do’s and don’ts of auto buying.
Below, we share some key tips for you to learn before you head out. They allow you to understand the process, the various aspects of a car beyond color, audio and whether it has remote start. Depending on where you live and what you plan on driving, the following tips may save you a lot of heartache and end up ensuring you keep money in your bank account.
When it comes to buying a new car, the smart way to avoid ending up with a lemon is to do your research.
Below are five tips for preparing to car shop before your feet hit the dealership lot.
The first is to consider safety technology. This is an area where you need to do your research carefully. Compare the safety ratings of the different models in the category of vehicle you want to purchase. Make sure the vehicle you are planning to get has sufficient measures in place for safety. Compare the airbags and various safety packages to get the vehicle you think will keep you safe on the road.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
Next, it is wise to think about the type of vehicle you want to drive by the size of the vehicle, the gas mileage it can get and the features available. Consider the reasons you will be driving your vehicle (do you commute long distances, take regular work trips, etc…). The cost of fuel is a significant factor in whether or not you can keep the vehicle on the road during the expensive times.Third, do your research on insurance costs. The type of vehicle is important to this, as are the safety features on the vehicle and the miles it has been driven.
Financing is another area that research is key for if you want to get a good deal. The smart way is to get pre-approved for a loan before you leave your home. If it takes going to your bank to get a pre-approval, do so. However, don’t go to the dealership until you have an idea of a budget and can use that to your advantage in negotiations. You are more likely to get a good rate from your bank, a credit union or an online lender, as opposed to through the financing available at a dealership. Here it is important to remind you that, while you may be approved for a lower rate, the dealership can tell you that you got approved for a higher rate, which means you have to pay more when it wasn’t necessary.
Your best bet is always waiting until terms of financing are finalized and approved before leaving the dealership.
The final step is that negotiation. When you are at the dealership, focus on one thing at a time. Don’t let them know if you have a trade-in or if you are going to seek financing. Just focus on the vehicle and the price they offer. If you give them too much at the beginning, they can juggle all the info and find a way to get one over on you on the vehicle you are trading in or try to increase the interest rate. Make sure you have an idea of what your trade-in is worth before you go as well. That gives you an advantage, because they won’t be as quick to volunteer that info if they can benefit from giving you a lower number. Don’t be so committed that you can’t walk away if they aren’t giving you a decent offer.
Don’t fall for the extended warranties, tire protection plans, paint protection plans, or gap insurance offers that they give you in the finance office. You don’t need them.
If you do want something like gap insurance, you will more likely get a good deal from your owner insurance, rather than through the dealership. Keep this in mind, as they will tell you how inexpensive it is, when really it just means more money for them.
Try to avoid long-term loans (i.e. six or seven-year terms). These tend to mean lower payments but a lot more interest. That’s not good for you as the auto buyer. It also means you may run into a situation where you owe more than you get paid if you choose to sell that vehicle.
It is also a good idea to consider your finances and try to keep your total vehicle costs per month at 20% of your income – and that means factoring in the cost for fuel, maintenance, etc… See, that cost of fuel came back already to bite you.
Your car payment should not be more than that 20% by itself.
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As a person setting out to buy a new vehicle, it is important to understand what to look for, what to avoid and what to know about the dealership and unnecessary add-ons.
However, when it comes to warranties, if you are buying a new vehicle, you will be covered by the Texas lemon law if you get a vehicle with a warranty. Therefore, that is one step you don’t want to skip when discussing the vehicle with the salesman.
Buying a vehicle used typically means you aren’t going to get a warranty, but it is possible. Avoid buying “as is” used vehicles, as chances are, you will be paying for repairs or be out a vehicle sooner rather than later.
The Texas lemon law specifically mentions a vehicle must be covered by original warranties and must be within the first 24 months after the purchase or first 24,000 miles driven to be covered.
There are, of course, other qualifications to be determined a lemon and be covered by the law. However, the key is understanding that generally it must be a new vehicle and must be covered by the warranties from the manufacturer.
Then, if it fits those criteria, you can start determining whether the same repair has been attempted during four or more trips to the mechanic, whether the vehicle has sat idle for 30 days or more since it was purchased (not necessarily in a row, mind you) and whether the defect is significant to the value of the vehicle and the safety of the driver.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.
These are all considerations if there are issues that crop up with a new vehicle in that first two years after purchase or before the odometer rolls to 24,000.
Buying a new car may seem like a fun adventure, but without the right tools, you aren’t prepared and most likely will suffer the consequences. Everyone wants a shiny new car, but not everyone is willing to take the time to be smart about car shopping – and that always comes back to bite them in the end.
Avoid being that person by preparing for your auto shopping trip and being prepared for the negotiations at the dealership. That way, you are far more happy to come home with a car you love that also comes with a payment you can handle. Money for potential issues in the bank is always helpful.