How to Take the Stress Out of Buying a New Car

Buying a car is a big purchase, even if the vehicle itself is fairly inexpensive. This is one of the largest purchases that most people will make and they do not want to make the wrong choice or feel pressured into purchasing a specific vehicle. Buying a new car should be fun and exciting, not stressful! If you are feeling stress or anxiety about this purchase, there are ways that you can soothe these fears and prepare yourself to make sure you are making the right decision.

1. Shop at a dealership you trust. When you buy from us or our Burlington or Turnersville dealerships, you know you are working with salesmen and with dealerships that you can rely on. We are proud of the vehicles that we sell and we are excited to help you find the vehicle that fits your needs. When you trust the people you are buying from, it will be much easier to find a car that you are ultimately happy with. There is nothing worse than driving your car home and wondering whether or not you made the right decision. We will help you make sure that you did!

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2. Do research before visiting dealerships. If part of your stress stems from the fact that there are so many different choices, even within the same brand, you can save yourself a little bit of stress by doing research before you actually start visiting dealerships. This might enable you to not only eliminate certain models, but entire makes. If you go online and look at a certain brand’s lineup and discover that they don’t have any vehicles that you are interested in test driving, you can cross that dealership off of your list and move on to the brands that are offering you vehicles you want to look at in person.

buying a car3. Look for dealerships offering incentives or deals. The monthly car payment might not actually be that worrisome for you, but that doesn’t mean that looking for a dealership that is offering a deal, discount, or incentive isn’t a bad idea. Some brands will actually offer you discounts if you already own a vehicle from that same brand. Others might be running specials where they offer extra money on a trade in vehicle. Many dealerships have specialized offers on certain models. Take a little bit of extra time to see if the brands that you are interested in buying from are offering one of these specials.

4. Decide on your budget before you get to the dealership. If you want to avoid even looking at cars that you know you can’t afford, decide before you get to the dealership what the very ceiling of your budget is going to be and then do not budge. If you are not sure how much the vehicles you are looking at are going to cost you from month to month, it is worth your time to use the payment calculators that every single brand has to get a good idea of what you are likely to pay, were you to buy that car. Make sure, if you have a tight budget, that you take car insurance and the cost of gas and repairs into consideration when deciding how much you want to pay.

5. Pick the right time to shop. There’s no “best time of the year” to buy a car. Every brand runs sales almost year-round and each individual dealership will over different incentives at different times. You probably will end up paying about the same for a car no matter what time of year you decide to buy. That said, if you want a less stressful buying experience, it is worth your time to pick the right day of the week to shop. If you can shop during the week, when most people are going to be at work, there will be fewer people on the lot and less competition for the attention of the salespeople.

6. Look for loans before you go. Most dealerships offer their own financing for their buyers, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shop around to see what sorts of loans and rates are available. Unless you are able to pay cash for a vehicle, you should spend at least a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with the loans that local lenders offer, as it is likely with one of these lenders that your dealership is going to work in order to finance that car for you. If you know what rates are considered fair, you’ll be much more prepared to negotiate when it comes time to buy.

7. Contact the dealership before visiting. If you know exactly what vehicles you want to test drive, it might be worth your time to call or email the dealership before you show up, asking if they have those models in the colors and with the features you need, so that they have them prepared for you. You’ll also establish a personal connection with the dealership, so when you show up, they already know who you are and you will probably already have a salesperson available and ready to help you find the perfect car.

8. Know when to walk away. If you are not one hundred percent ready to buy a car, the experience is going to be stressful, no matter what you do. If you really are not ready, be ready to walk away and take a few days to think about the purchase and which vehicle really is going to be the best for you and your lifestyle.

Ask Our Dealership: Common Car Maintenance Questions Answered

You can drive a car and not be an expert in their inner workings. That what our dealership’s maintenance department is for! But if you do want to be a more contentious car owner, you might be looking for a little more information about your vehicle to make sure you are driving it and caring for it the right way. Here are some of the most common car questions we are asked and their answers!

My owner’s manual says that normal gas is fine. Wouldn’t it be better to put premium gas in my car?

car maintenanceThere are just about no consumer vehicles that need premium gasoline. There are some engines that are graded only for this higher octane fuel, but it is very unlikely that you are driving one of those vehicles. If you look in your Kia vehicle’s owner’s manual and it says that the regular unleaded gasoline is the gas of choice for your vehicle, there is no need to splurge and buy the more expensive gasoline.

So, why is premium gasoline even an option at the pump if you are not supposed to put it in your car? There are some engines that are graded to function better when they have higher octane gasoline in them. Every engine uses a combination of oxygen and gasoline to power itself. The gas that you put into your vehicle is compressed in your engine by a cylinder and is then ignited by a spark plug. The higher octane gasoline you use, the more compression the gas can take before it is ignited.

Your engine is probably graded to provide the amount of compression that regular unleaded gasoline can take before ignition, not for the higher amount of compression that premium gas can withstand. So, while using premium gasoline certainly won’t harm your engine, your engine probably doesn’t need it, and so buying it is just an unnecessary expense. And because gas prices are already so high, there is no real need to pay even more for “better” gasoline, when your vehicle doesn’t need it.

Is it helpful when I try to replicate the sound my car is making to the mechanic when I take it in?

Many people feel a little embarrassed when they try to replicate the noise their vehicle makes with their own mouth. Don’t worry, your mechanic is not laughing at you. The sound that you are making can actually give our maintenance department a lot of really good information about what is going on with your vehicle and what we need to do to be able to fix it, especially if there is nothing in your vehicle’s diagnostics and there are no dashboard lights on.

If you don’t feel comfortable trying to replicate the noise, it is still useful to try to describe the noise to our mechanics. Is it high-pitched? Does it sound metallic, like metal on metal? Is it a low rumble? A squealing sound? Your vehicle can make lots of weird noises and we know all too well that you might be having a problem out on the road that we just cannot replicate when we have your vehicle in the shop. Gathering as much information as possible from you, the person who spends the most time with this car, is very helpful, no matter how we get that information.

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How do I know if my vehicle actually needs maintenance or if the shop is trying to scam me?

Unfortunately, there are some mechanics who will try to take advantage of individuals who do not know every much about cars. They will tell them that something is wrong with their vehicle and will hope that you, as the driver, will not be able to tell whether or not that is something that is actually wrong with your vehicle. Whether your car breaks down and you have it towed into the shop or whether you are simply taking that vehicle in for routine maintenance, you might be told that there is something wrong with your car that is not actually wrong with your car.

But, how do you know if you are being taken advantage of or if you really do need that repair? First of all, you should only take your vehicle to a shop that you trust. Our maintenance department is staffed only by the best mechanics, who have both extensive training and who are more than willing to sit down with you and explain in great detail what is wrong with your vehicle.

If you can’t bring your vehicle into our dealership’s maintenance department, you will want to look for a mechanic who has the right credentials and accreditation. Look for or ask to see their certificates. Watch out for secret fees, too. Do they charge you just for diagnosing your vehicle? If they do, they night also be willing to charge you for work they never intend on doing. Work only with mechanics that give you an itemized invoice that clearly shows what you are paying for.

If you’re not sure that your vehicle needed a certain service, ask them to tell you why they did that service and to show you the results. Learn a little about your vehicle and what type of maintenance it is likely to have. Learn a little bit about car maintenance and what certain issues sound and feel like when you are driving. The more involved you are and the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be scammed.

Why Is My Check Engine Light On?

The first time I saw a check engine light, I was driving home from university at the beginning of one summer, with my little sister in the passenger’s seat next to me. I’d never seen the light on my dashboard before and I immediately panicked. The little light that looks like an engine obviously meant that my vehicle was going to explode if I continued driving it, right? And I was still two states away from home!

After consulting my owner’s manual, I discovered that while it did not offer a direct explanation for the check engine light, the light was not actually trying to tell me that my vehicle was about to self-destruct. Instead, it told me to take my car in to the dealership as soon as possible. I wasn’t ecstatic that the light didn’t give me any information about what was wrong with my car (for example, when the tire pressure light comes on, I know that one of my tires has low pressure and needs to be refilled). Still jittery, but at least not panicking anymore, I did exactly that.

They looked over my car, looked at its diagnostics, told me that they couldn’t find anything wrong, and just turned the light off. That was disconcerting, but ultimately, there was nothing else to do. I still wonder, to this day, what made that light turn on. If you’re wondering the same thing, here are a few of the most common check engine light explanations:

1. Your oxygen sensor needs to be replaced. Your car likely has a computer in it, did you know that? One of the functions of that computer is to monitor how much of your fuel has been burned, using an oxygen sensor. If this sensor is not working properly, the computer in your vehicle is not getting the right information. The sensor can get covered in debris and sludge in your busy engine and becomes less able to determine how much fuel and oxygen is being used, which will, in turn, decrease your fuel economy and make your car emit more dangerous gasses.

 

2. Your gas cap is faulty or loose. Your gas cap isn’t anywhere near your engine, right? So why would a loose gas cap cause your check engine light to come on? This is what the technicians at my dealership told me was the likely cause of my check engine light. When you do not screw it back into place properly or there is an issue with the gas cap, vapors created by your fuel will leak out of this area, which can wreak havoc on your entire fuel system. You’ll again see more emissions and less fuel economy. This is one of the most likely causes, especially if you do not feel like your vehicle is driving strangely or that there is anything else wrong with it.

 

3. You need new spark plugs. Your spark plugs are integral to the function of your vehicle, and if they are not working properly, your car is going to tell you about it by switching on your check engine light. You need functioning spark plugs in order to be able to start your car. When these plugs start to fail or misfire, you can feel it when you start your car. Pay attention and see if your car jolts a little bit when you accelerate. Your plugs are simply going to fail—it’s what they do. This is why you need to take your vehicle in to the dealership if your light comes on.

 

4. Your mass airflow sensor is faulty. This sensor’s job is to tell your car how much fuel the engine needs, based on how much air is in the engine. It is critical to a properly functioning engine and if it does not work properly, you’ll see that your emissions are increased and your gas mileage is decreased. If you do not regularly replace your air filters, you are going to see this becoming a more and more common problem. Replacing your air filters when you get an oil change is one of the best ways to make sure this never happens to you.

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5. You need a new catalytic convertor. Your catalytic convertor is used to reduce the amount of harmful gas that your car emits. It will convert carbon monoxide into completely harmless gasses, which makes driving a car not as bad for the environment as it used to be before catalytic convertors were used in vehicles. If this part of your car starts to malfunction, you are going to see your check engine light come on. Not driving around for weeks or months with your check engine light on is integral to protecting this part of your vehicle. Issues with your catalytic convertor usually stem from faulty oxygen sensors of old spark plugs—issues your vehicle will already have been trying to tell you about.

 

6. You need a new thermostat. Your car’s thermostat determines the temperature of your engine, opening the valve to let in coolant when it is needed. If this device is not working properly, your check engine light will probably come on. A malfunctioning thermostat will probably lead to overheating and severe engine corrosion, depending on how long you drive with your check engine light on and do not take your vehicle in to be serviced.

 

If your check engine light comes on, the best thing to do is to take your vehicle in to your dealership as quickly as possible. While a check engine light does not always constitute an emergency, this is your vehicle trying to tell you that something is wrong and that the situation is, at the very least, urgent.