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Five Common Mistakes Car Buyers Make

By Kim Nguyen

Buying a new car can be an extremely exciting experience. But considering that a car may be the second-most expensive purchase you make in your life (most expensive goes to purchasing a home), you might want to avoid making some very costly mistakes. Here are some common mistakes shoppers make when buying a car. (Related article: Should You Buy a New Car or a Used Car?)

Choosing a Car that Doesn’t Suit Your Needs

Consider the type of car that will best fit your lifestyle and needs. If you have a long commute to work and back, it is probably best to look into buying a car that is fuel-efficient, especially if you’re on a tight monthly budget. Do you need to haul things on a regular basis? In that case, maybe you need to invest in a truck. Do you typically have to drive around with multiple passengers? With that in mind, maybe buying your dream two-door coupe isn’t the best idea. Be sure to evaluate your current lifestyle and buy a car that is best suited for it. Don’t let anyone (especially your friends or a sneaky car salesperson) talk you into a new car that you’re going to regret.

Not Enough Cross Shopping

You would assume that this is common sense, but don’t buy the first car you like! Take a step back and do a little bit more research. You may be able to get a similar car for a better deal, or more bang for your buck. Typically shoppers will only focus on a few well-known brands and models, when in reality there may be over 10 different vehicles that will fit their needs and specifications. Don’t make that mistake, and be sure to put in a little research before reaching a final decision.

Skipping the Test Drive

Yet another tip that seems like a no-brainer, but some shoppers still make the mistake of not test driving the car they plan on buying. Consumer Reports recommends spending at least 30 minutes driving the car, entering and exiting the highway, and driving it like you would on an everyday basis. Based on this initial test, you can determine if the car you plan on buying handles well, has poor visibility or has uncomfortable seats. You won’t know all this just sitting in it in the lot.

Focusing on Monthly Payment

Rather than focusing on your monthly car payment, focus on the final purchase price, after everything is all said and done. Salespeople at dealerships will focus on the “monthly” payment, because it will make unnecessary add-ons more tempting and doable. In reality, all of the unnecessary add-ons will add thousands to your bottom line. The buying process should be: choose the car, settle on final price, and then financing (your final monthly payment).  Don’t let salespeople steer your focus away from the bottom line.

Not Getting a Used Car Checked Out By A Mechanic

If you’re planning on purchasing a used car rather than new, be sure to always get the car checked out by a mechanic before you start discussing pricing. Sure, it test drives fine, but if the timing belt is about to blow, it’s best that you know that beforehand and be better suited for negotiating the price down. Big fixes can be extremely costly to you. Have some peace of mind, and get your trusted mechanic to take a look under the hood. (Related article: How To Find a Good Trustworthy Mechanic)

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