The 8 Biggest Car Buying Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

right or wrongA 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.

Top 10 Car Buying Myths

Kia Warranty

There are a lot of misconceptions about the car buying process and what you can expect when you show up on a lot like ours to buy a car. If you’re thinking about buying a new car, knowing what these car buying myths are and why they’re myths can help you have a much smoother, much faster car buying experience. Here are the top 10 myths about car buying that everyone believes but are totally bogus:

1. Extended warranties are just one more way for the dealership to make money.

Many people who come to our Kia dealership believe that we’re trying to milk every single dollar out of them that we can. In reality, all we’re trying to do is make sure they get the best deal on a car that is properly protected. Kia already has an amazing warranty program, but when we’re offering you an extension or promotion, this isn’t just to get more of your money. A warranty can save you from having to pay for some of the most expensive repairs (like for a new transmission). Paying for a new or longer warranty should ultimately save you money in the long run.

2. Kelley Blue Book knows all the most accurate prices.

KBB is a good place to start, there’s no doubt about that. However, Kelley, unfortunately, isn’t the be-all, end-all when it comes to car prices, especially if you’re not looking at an updated prices list and new models have been sent out to lots. The best way to find the average price of cars in your area is to look at dealerships and talk to salespeople to see what they are offering their cars at. Our dealership and other dealerships in the area do extensive pricing research before tacking any price onto our cars.

3. You should never buy a car if this is its first model year.

This is advice often dispensed to people who are looking for new cars, and it’s just not true. Today’s car manufacturers would not send a car out to lots if it wasn’t fit to drive and wasn’t just as valuable as the other cars on that lot. This isn’t the age of the Ford Pinto any longer—every model goes through extensive safety, reliability, and performance testing before they are sent out to be sold, and if there’s ever a problem, recalls are always issued.

4. Online reviews are always to be trusted.

Here’s a secret about online reviews: the only people who leave online reviews without being prompted to are those who either love the car more than anything else they’ve ever driven or those who have problems with the car. That is why you’ll usually see a swath of extremely good reviews, and another swath of very bad reviews, with very few middle of the road reviews in between. Don’t just trust the rabble of reviewers. You need to look at official car reviewing websites (where cars are evaluated and reviewed by professionals).

5. You don’t need to test drive.

More and more often, we find people coming onto our lot who have done their homework and know what car they want to buy. That’s great! Some of them, however, don’t even want to test drive the car before they purchase it. They’ve read about how it drives, and they think they’re ready to make a purchase. You won’t truly know if you’re ready to buy a particular make or model until you’ve actually taken it out on the road, that’s just a fact.

6. If you pay in cash, you’ll get a better deal than if you finance.

If you have cash on hand to pay for your new Kia, you might as well just pay for it outright. However, if you don’t have cash on hand to pay for that new car and you have to finance, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to pay thousands more for that car than if you bought it with cash. Most of the time, a dealer will be more willing to negotiate if you are financing than if you are just flat-out going to pay for the car right then and there.

7. There’s a secret lower price that you can pay if you just ask for it.

Some people arrive on a lot to buy a car believing that all of the cars have been grievously marked up—much higher than their actual price—and that if you just ask for the secret lower price, you’ll be able to get that same car for an astounding deal. The truth is that there is no secret lower price. Car salespeople are ready to negotiate, but they’re not going to be able to sell you a car for lower than the invoice.

8. You can get a better deal online than in person.

While we might occasionally run a special on our website, you still have to come into the dealership in person to get that deal. Plus, there are usually many more promotions and deals available than are listed on the website.


9. You should secure your own financing.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with bringing your own financing, but as a dealership, there are financiers that we prefer working with because they give our buyers better rates, which allow us to offer better discounts. If you are buying a car on financing, it’s probably better to come in and check out our financing options.

10. The end of the month is the best time to buy a car.

Many “car buying tip” listicles with include a point about waiting until the last weekend of the month to purchase a car because the salesperson will be more desperate to make their quota. However, in general what you’ll find is a lot with fewer choices and that the best deals have already passed you by.