When Buying a Vehicle, Avoid Mistakes

Starting the search for buying a new vehicle can come with its uncertainties.  Dealing with a dealer can sometimes not go as smoothly as you would like and by the time they are done your mind could be going in circles.  You are trying not to hand over your entire bank account but each car comes with options, prices, monthly payments, financing, warranties, and you may or may not have a trade-in to help lower the final amount.  Before you stop by any dealership it helps to be prepared.

Car dealers are looking to make what they can from each potential buyer so it is in the customer’s best interest to avoid making certain mistakes when making such a large purchase to buy a vehicle.

Not Enough Cross-Shopping
When a lot of people look to buy a vehicle, they tend to look at just a couple of the brands or models that are out there.  Whether shopping for a car or an SUV, there may be a dozen vehicles that are a match for what they are looking for in size, pricing and features.  Try not to look only at certain brands because of what may no longer be true about the cars from other brands.  Taking more cars into account may help you find a good deal or a car that is the best fit.

Saying Up-front That you Want to Pay Cash
Informing a salesperson that you intend to pay in cash may make some feel like a big shot but it may backfire on you.  This immediately tells them that they will not make any money off of you in a loan and they may be less likely to negotiate the final price of the car because now they are trying to hold on to what little profit that may be left.  It is hard to fault them for that since a dealership cannot stay open without making any kind of a profit but the customer is better off waiting until after agreeing on a price to say that the purchase will be made with cash.

Buying Unnecessary Add-Ons
Some features offered may be done at the dealership like a fabric protectant or making a car rust proof.  Try to avoid these since they are not essential.  If a desired vehicle already has the add-ons try to negotiate the price down as much as you can.  Do some research online to learn what you actually need, come up with a few variations that can include affordable features you would like to have (in case the dealership doesn’t have exactly what you want and can’t relocate what you want from another location) and print them out.  This can help keep you from being sold either a pricier model or a car with features you are not interested in.

Skipping the Test Drive
After the purchase of a car, the driver and/or passengers may have complaints about less-than-ideal visibility, seats that are not comfortable, not enough legroom, etc.  This is usually the result of a non-thorough test drive or not having one at all.  Some would recommend taking a 30-minute test drive that would include getting on and off of a highway and navigating roads that are similar to those you drive on a daily basis.  Doing the same with each car you are looking at can either prove that what you want is the best or that what you thought you wanted is not as good as another car.

Settling for What is on the Lot
Too many people buying a vehicle want the car right away.  Approximately 5% of the population special-order what they want and then wait for it to be built and delivered.  Everybody else either settles for something they don’t really want or is lucky enough to find what they wanted on the lot.  If you’re not one of the lucky ones you are not doing yourself any favors by settling.  Dealers have the capability to look up the inventories of other locations to see if somebody else has exactly what you are looking for or they may be able to send in a custom-order to the factory.

Focusing on the Monthly Payment
Salespeople have initial questions and one of them may be what you want to spend per month.  It is best not to keep the sale focused around that number.  Knowing that number, a dealer might try to tempt a potential buyer with features like more horsepower or a navigation system that could add a seemingly small amount to each payment.  That can add thousands to the final price.  Always keep in mind what you need.  From there you can work on negotiating the final price instead of the monthly payment.  If it helps, the buying process can be broken up into parts.  1. Choosing the car, 2. Agreeing on a price and 3. Financing.  If necessary, make it clear to the dealer what your focus is in each step to avoid getting sidetracked.

Buying More Car Than You Need
After the gas prices dropped from their 2008 spike, many went back to buying larger vehicles.  What somebody gets is their decision but being honest with yourself about what you really need will keep you better off in the long run.  A customer has no one to blame but themselves if they look at nothing but pickup trucks or large SUVs with a V8 engine when what they really needed was a car or mid-size SUV.

Negotiating Down From the Sticker Price
Without doing research before buying a vehicle, all you know is the price attached to a car’s window and that does you no good.  It is highly recommended to look up each of your possible vehicles and find out the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), the car’s invoice price (what the dealership paid for the car), rebates available to consumers, direct-to-dealer incentives, and dealer holdbacks (potentially, dealers can sometimes get back from the manufacturer a percentage of the invoice price).  After putting those numbers together, you can start from a set number and go up from there instead of trying to start at the MSRP and negotiate down.  The best scenario is for the customer to get a good price while not blocking the dealer from earning a reasonable profit.

Being Clueless About Financing
Negotiating over a few hundred bucks sounds nice but you can get hit harder inside the financing office and not even know it.  Dealers have partnerships with banks but the loans that are offered may not have interest rates that would be considered competitive.  For each loan, a dealer will get money from the bank or financial institution.  It’s unlikely they are trying to rip off the customer but people don’t tend to work for free, including dealers.  What can help is knowing your credit score and finding out ahead of time what multiple banks and/or credit unions have to say about rates you can get on a car loan.

Fumbling on the Trade-In
It may be beneficial to the customer if the trade-in is handled separately from negotiating the final price of a new car.  Mentioning it too soon gives the dealer a chance to come up with a final price that works out better for them instead of for the customer.  First, find out the value of your trade-in by looking up its value on Kelly Blue Book and similar websites so you know what a fair price for it will be.  Then, after you and the salesperson have agreed on a price, start negotiating on the price of the trade-in.  If your dealer asks about a trade-in before you are ready to mention it, try to avoid answering and get their focus back on the part of the car buying process that you are currently focusing on.

Auto Insurance
There is a little bit more than the monthly payment and final price of the car that a buyer needs to keep in mind.  Proof of insurance is usually required when buying a vehicle from a dealership and whether one plans to pay their insurance premium in full or in payments over the course of the policy period, that money is part of the expense of owning a car and should be taken into account with everything else.  Not all cars are created equally and some cost more than others in the insurance side of things.  It may be a good idea to talk with your agent about your Miami auto insurance to find out what premium you could end up with for the various cars that you are considering.  You could learn that, including insurance, you may not be able to afford one or more of the cars on your list.

Buying and having a new vehicle can be fun but the end result shouldn’t make you feel like you have to hand over all of your hard earned money just so that you can have it.  There may be some give and take in the process of buying a car but if you at least make sure that you get what you need, don’t overly worry about what you would like to have, avoid purchase pressure from the dealer, and know what your insurance costs will be you may be able to drive away in a new car relatively unscathed.  Hopefully the excitement of a new car is never stifled by a feeling of not knowing how you are going to pay for it after all is said and done.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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