7 Useful Tips for Buying Your Next Car
Posted by: Dan on 26/07/2016
Buying a car is a decision most of us make several times in our lives. No matter how many times we do it, though, there are many challenges that can make a new purchase feel challenging. Rather than encounter these pitfalls, read on to learn our 7 useful tips to make the purchase of your next vehicle a pleasure.
1. Take your time
The phrase “impulse purchase” exists for a reason. Whether it’s grabbing that chocolate protein bar near your gym’s exit, or getting that iTunes movie rental when you’ve got a whole lot of work to do, we all have made snap decisions in the heat of the moment that may or may not be beneficial in the long term. Some impulse purchases are ill-advised, but don’t have much impact other than making our wallets a little lighter. But buying a car is a different story.
Even if you needed a new vehicle yesterday, rushing that kind of purchase is never a good idea. When preparing to buy a new car, you should allow yourself at least two weeks (and ideally two months) to find the right one. If you’re really desperate for a car in the meantime, rent one. It may cost you a couple hundred more upfront, but that’s much better than a rush purchase that will see you waste thousands overall.
2. Plan your budget and must-have features
Whether you’re buying from a dealer or a private seller, new or used, you need to have a clear idea of your budget in advance. This ensures you can begin your search with a clear plan in place, rather than constantly going back and forth between your savings account and the car listings online (or your bank, if you’ve sought financing to help buy the new car).
This also applies to your desired features for your next ride, such as a V8 engine, a great stereo system, or even a new set of tyres. By deciding ahead of time which features of your next car are “must haves,” you’ll be able to search and select your new vehicle much faster.
3. Narrow down what car you want (and be ready to customise)
Once you have a budget and have identified your must-have features, begin to look for cars that fit the bill. As you do so, be ready to explore to what extent you can easily customise the car to your liking. For example, while you may have your heart set on a red sports car, if you find an otherwise perfect model in grey just sitting in storage for $5000 less – and a new red paint job would only cost $2000 – go ahead and buy that car.
4. Ask your family and friends for recommendations
Once you have a car in mind, go ahead and ask your family and friends what they think of it, and also what they like about their cars. This could give you some insight into vehicles you haven’t considered before, and actual driver experience with your potential new ride can be invaluable: even if the car looks great on paper, if it handles terribly, you’ll be very unhappy with your new purchase.
Of course, everyone has their limits. If you're 26, just got promoted, and want a ride that will thrill you, Auntie Doreen’s sensible sedan may not fit what you have in mind. All in all, though, you're likely to have similar driving needs to family and friends – so listen to their input.
5. Avoid ‘friend of a friend’ sales
It always sounds good at first: you need a car, and your friend’s friend is selling one. This can be trouble, though. Just like lending money to family or friends can strain your relationship if they fail to pay it back, if you buy a car from someone you know even remotely, it could damage your friendship if something goes wrong with the transaction or the vehicle.
Of course, there can be exceptions to this rule. If you’re a member of a classic car club and seeking a rare vehicle, it's fine to look at one a fellow member has for sale. But if you’re looking for a two-year-old Toyota instead of a 60s Lamborghini? Go to the dealership instead.
6. Be willing to walk away
It’s a buyer’s market right now in Australia, with 1,155,408 new vehicles sold in 2015. So, while you can expect the salesman with the pinstripe suit and ample hair gel to put on his best presentation about why his latest vehicle is made for you, remember that there are many dealers you can go to.
If you find a car you like, but you’re unhappy with the final price, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. It must be remembered: the seller needs to sell their car – while (unless truly desperate) you just want to buy one – so be ready to look elsewhere for other models if the deal is not what you seek.
7. ...but don’t wait too long
Taking your time finding the right ride is wise, but avoiding endless searching is important, too. Buying a new car is sometimes just a matter of having the courage to take the plunge. So, if you’ve done your research and taken your time – and you’re 99% sure you’ve found a good match – don’t be afraid to buy ‘the one.’
As you look to purchase a new car, you may find that your budget and needs change slightly as you look around. This is completely normal, and even expected in most cases. So, once you’ve got a plan in place, be sure to go and put your plan into action. Then, once you’ve got your new car, plan a road trip to really maximise the fun you can have with it.
What other tips do you have for buying a car? Do you have any great car buying stories to share? Let us know in the comments below: