A car is likely one of the larger purchases you are going to make in your lifetime. As with any large purchase, the fear of making the wrong choice or getting a bad deal can make it impossible to actually make a purchase, even if you know essentially what you want to buy and where you want to buy it from. Here are eight of the biggest car buying mistakes and how you can avoid making them as you start looking for your car, whether it is the first car you’ve purchased or the tenth:
1. Buying from a dealership that you do not trust – Many people still have the mental image of a slimy cars salesperson when they step onto a lot. They are afraid that they are going to be bullied into buying a car, even if it is not the vehicle they want, or they are going to be forced to pay more than they wanted to pay. You can eliminate this problem by buying from a dealership that you trust and that you know will help you find a car that works for you, not just find a car that they can unload on you.
2. Not test driving the car enough – The salesperson you are working with will likely recommend that you take any car you are thinking seriously about for a test drive. Don’t just drive the car around the block and then bring it back to the dealership. You need to see how it behaves on a wide variety of different road conditions, including the highway. You might like how it drives on the surface streets, but hate how it drives at speeds over fifty miles an hour. Try to take it on a route that you might often be driving (or one similar), to see how it will act under your normal driving circumstances.
3. Guessing what your trade in is worth – The car that you are trading in likely has some sentimental value. Because it is likely at least a few years since you purchased that car, you might not have a good idea of what the trade in is actually worth anymore. Even if you bought that vehicle for $20,000, it is not going to be worth anywhere near that amount of money. The only people who can really tell you what that vehicle is worth is a car dealership, that has an expert who can evaluate your car based on its mileage and condition.
4. You make a panicked decision in order to get a special deal – The last thing you want to do is to jump into a car purchase without carefully thinking about whether or not the car you are buying is the vehicle that you actually want. The salesperson might be offering you a one-time deal, and you think that you have to make the decision right then or you will not be able to buy the car. If your mind is not fully made up, if you are not completely sure that this is the car you want to buy, do not buy it until you have to make the decision!
5. Not talking to your insurance agent – When you buy a car, you are going to need to add it to your insurance policy (or purchase auto insurance for the first time, if you are buying for the first time). Don’t neglect making a call to your insurance agent. If you are concerned about what you will have to pay for certain types of vehicles (some vehicles are more expensive to insure than others), or you want to make sure that you have the right kinds of insurance, including gap insurance, make the call before you make the purchase.
6. Putting too much emphasis on the monthly payment – If you are only looking at how much you will be paying on a monthly basis and not at how much you are paying over the life of your vehicle, you are missing the bigger picture. You want to know how much you are going to have to pay in total, not just from month to month. While lower monthly payments might look good at first, this usually also means that you will be paying a higher interest rate, over a longer length of time, making the vehicle more expensive in the long term. Ask for a calculation of your total costs, not just your monthly costs.
7. Not doing any independent research – Today, you have lots of resources for research. You can find lists of the safest vehicles on the road, can log on to brand websites and read about the special features or options available on different vehicles, you can read blogs, or even see what a dealership like ours has on the lot before you even come to visit us. Doing a little bit of independent research will make it much, much easier to find the car that you want and will probably shorten the entire car buying experience.
8. Picking something flashy instead of something practical – It can be very tempting to buy the sports car, when what you actually need for your lifestyle is the more sensible sedan. Luckily, Kia offers a wide variety of different vehicles that are both stylish and functional, so you do not have to choose between the two. You should still be mindful, however, of how you are going to use your car and what type of vehicle might be best for those needs.