When buying a car, the best defense is a strong offense, which in this case is supported by all the information available on the Internet. You can learn the approximate value of any car fairly easily with a few visits to manufacturer’s websites, discount superstores, and independent car buying services, like Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book. A few hours spent entering makes, models, and options can help narrow your possible choices before you even leave the house.
After some time researching, you should focus on a few specific makes and models. Learn as much as you can about them, and make lists of the options you need, the options you want, and the options you can do without. Remember some items, like sounds systems, can be added later.
Consider All the Costs that Drive Up the Price of a Car
The car’s make and model and the options you pick all have a big impact on the overall price. But don’t forget the other costs you’ll have to eventually pay, like repair and maintenance, gas, insurance, taxes, registration, and delivery costs. You may be able to afford the payments on a new SUV, but can you afford to fill it up with gas a couple times a week to meet your commute to work?
Establish the extra costs involved in purchasing a car before you make that final decision to buy. A call to your insurance agent should give you a good idea of what it will cost to insure the make and model you’re considering. Be sure to ask if adding an anti-theft system or anti-lock brakes would reduce the premiums. Then ask if you could save more with a comparable model.
Driving Off the Lot
Before you leave the dealership, you still have to sign papers and take possession of the vehicle. Be sure to read and understand everything you sign. Verify calculations and question anything that doesn’t make sense to you.
When you finally get your car, go over everything again. Ask to meet the service manager and schedule a three-month maintenance check. This is where you cash in on the dealer’s much-advertised customer service. Make sure to get what you paid for.
Your car’s value decreases the minute you drive it off the lot. Taking care of it, with regular maintenance and cautious driving, is the best way to extend the value of your purchase and prevent the purchase of another vehicle for a few more years.