6 Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off While Buying a Car

With the exception of buying a home, a car or vehicle purchase can be one of the biggest single expenses of an individual’s life. This massive investment, which is relied on in many cases to aid in daily life, should be given careful consideration. After all, if you purchase a vehicle that requires frequent repairs, it can end up costing you a lot more than it’s worth! Don’t get taken for a ride; be savvy about your next car purchase and get the most for your money!

Always Check the Standard Value of the Vehicle

Whether you’re buying something new and shiny right off the dealer lot or purchasing a used vehicle on the secondary market, you need to know how the asking prices stacks up with the average price for a similar condition vehicle of the same make, model, and year in your area. The Kelly Blue Book, once an actual book, is now a digital database that you can access online, for free, anywhere. Once you input your location, whether you’re buying on the secondary market or from a dealer, and the make, model, and year of the vehicle, you’ll be shown the range of prices, based on condition, paid for that exact vehicle in your region. Autotrader offers similar service, and both can help you to know where the starting point for your price negotiation should be.

Consult a Mobile Mechanic.

A mobile mechanic can save you the heartbreak of buying a lemon. Especially when considering a used vehicle or a vehicle with a salvage title, calling on a mobile mechanic you trust to physically inspect the vehicle you’re considering before purchase is a smart move. A mobile mechanic can quickly and easily spot future problems in the making, something difficult for the average driver. They can also let you know if there are signs of improper maintenance or shoddy previous repairs. Although you’ll be charged for each service call, having a mobile mechanic help with the purchase process can ensure you are investing in the right vehicle when the time comes!

Research the Make and Model.

Chances are, unless you have your heart set on a specific vehicle, you may look at a wide assortment of cars, from pristine previous leases to used classic cars to modern, efficient vehicles. Regardless of how many cars you consider, however, you should be reading about and researching each make and model before taking it for a test drive. Some makes, even those with long production runs and great name recognition, have had off years for certain components. It’s good to know going into the test drive that the car you’re driving has a tendency to chew through brake pads at an unusually fast rate, or that it’s prone to wiring glitches. This will give you an idea of what to look most closely at, and what used vehicles you should simply avoid.

Don’t Settle for Dealer Financing.

Make no mistake about it, dealerships offer financing because they can make money off the transaction in two ways, not as a courtesy to their customers. While some dealerships can offer excellent financing options, many attach hidden fees and even charge a higher interest rate than nearby banking institutions. Look at the fine print to make sure they’re offering you an appropriately competitive interest rate and appropriate, not excessive, fees. It may also be easier to get the dealership to offer you those amazing financing offers they advertise if you walk in the door with a letter of financing from another lending institution.

Don’t Get Trapped.

There is anecdotal evidence (self-reported stories) online that some dealerships will intentionally sit a potential customer in an offer for hours, keeping them waiting. Ostensibly, this is because of the need to execute documents and apply for financing, but actually, it’s a negotiation tactic. These unethical salespeople will intentionally wear your patience thin, knowing that after three hours of waiting, you’ll just be relieved to finally sign for the car and leave. If a salesperson tries to stick you in an office to wait, leave. There are other dealerships and other ways to buy a car; you shouldn’t give your business to someone who will disrespect your time just to take advantage of you. If nothing else, your exit may inspire them to chase you to the door, trying to win back your business.

Avoid Dealership Extras.

From lifetime oil change passes to specialized rugs, dealerships will do their best to sell you as many add-ons for your vehicle purchase as they can. In almost every case, these additional purchases would be better obtained elsewhere. The oil change offer is often far more expensive than paying for the maintenance out of pocket every 3,000 miles. Those rugs are likely also available at a local retailer for a substantial discount, compared to the dealer’s retail asking price.

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