1. Buying a New Car: Introduction
  2. Buying a New Car: Signs It's Time to Buy
  3. Buying a New Car: Getting Started
  4. Buying a New Car: The 5 Best Safety Options
  5. Buying a New Car: Smart Strategies at the Dealership
  6. Buying a New Car: 5 Common Mistakes
  7. Buying a New Car: Sneaky Tricks Car Salespeople Pull
  8. Buying a New Car: Financing Your Purchase
  9. Buying a New Car: How to Spot a Great Car Deal
  10. Buying a New Car: Websites, Tools and Apps to Use
  11. Buying a New Car: How to Maintain a Car's Value
  12. Buying a New Car: Top 10 Takeaways

Many things can go wrong when shopping for a new vehicle. And when things do not go well, it is often the fault of the buyer who has committed one or more of the common mistakes that people make when buying a car, truck or other transport. The best way to avoid these mistakes is to be aware of them. Here are some of the most  egregious mistakes people make when getting themselves into a new ride.

1. Not Shopping Around

It really does pay to shop around. Comparing prices, options and features for the same vehicle at different car lots can help you to get more car for less money. But too often, people buy the first vehicle they see at the first dealership they visit. Whether this is because they are strapped for time, were dealing with a persuasive salesperson, or fell in love with the car after taking it for a test drive, it is never advisable to buy the first car you see.

How will you know what’s available and find a good deal if you don’t look around? Also, you can play dealerships against each other. Negotiate a price and some extras at one dealership,  then take that offer to another dealer and ask them to beat it. This may sound time consuming, but it will help you get ahead in the long run. So take your time and look around both online and at dealerships. Compare and compare again. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Buying a Vehicle Sight Unseen Online

You can buy pretty much anything online these days, including vehicles. And while making a purchase from the comfort of your home with the click of a mouse may be convenient, it is not the best way to acquire a new car, truck or minivan. There's something to be said about "kicking the tires" on a car.

 Paying for a vehicle sight unseen online is a recipe for disaster. First, there’s no guarantee the car that’s advertised online will be the one you end up with after paying for it. Second, there’s no way to tell how a vehicle operates unless you take it for a test drive. You can’t spot engine problems or a noisy exhaust by looking at photos on a website. And third, you risk being ripped off when paying for a car online without seeing it in person. It’s not worth the substantial risks involved.

If you find a vehicle you’re interested in online, take the time to inspect it for real. And never hand over money until you’ve kicked those tires a few times. Popular Mechanics offers a list of reputable websites for buying and selling cars online.

3. Paying for Extras You Don't Need

Sure, heated seats are nice. But do you really need them? How about a sunroof? Upholstery protection? An extended warranty? The point is that there is seemingly no end to the features, upgrades and extras you can add to a vehicle these days. But each additional item costs money and that money can add up in a hurry.

The best approach is to try and haggle to get some extras thrown in for free. The sales staff at a dealership will likely try and sell you on buying an extended warranty for your new car. It would be best if you could negotiate to get that extended warranty for free. If you can’t get an option for free, or at a deeply discounted price, then it is likely best to decline it.

Keep in mind that many extras offered to you by a car dealer, such as paying in advance for maintenance you may or may not need in the future, is unnecessary. Besides, if you don’t have heated seats, will you really miss them?

4. Taking Out a Lengthy Car Loan

For many years, 60 months (five years) was the longest time period you could take to pay off a new car you had bought. Today, payment periods of 72 months (six years) and even 84 months (seven years) are common. These lengthier payment terms enable people to get into a more expensive vehicle that they covet, but they are rarely a wise financial decision.

Of course, car dealerships like longer payment periods because it provides them with more months in which their customers are paying them interest. But for the owner, it often leaves them upside down in their vehicle – meaning they owe more money on it than it is worth. Given that all vehicles depreciate in value and are prone to significant breakdowns after being driven for five years, it doesn’t makes sense to take more than 60 months to pay them off. Ideally, new cars should be paid off in 48 months (four years) or less. Many financial experts recommend paying off vehicles within 36 months to make them a viable investment. Take too long with the car payments and you’re left with a seven-year-old jalopy you’ll be forced to replace right after it is paid off.   

5. Not Negotiating the Price

Everything is negotiable when it comes to a new car. Everything! While salespeople may tell you they don’t negotiate, don’t believe them. Stand up and prepare to walk out of the dealership and watch how quickly they become willing to discuss your terms.

When it comes to negotiations, nothing is more important than the price of a vehicle. Getting the price of a new car as low as possible is every consumer’s primary goal at a dealership. The secondary goal is to negotiate a low interest rate and advantageous payment terms. But price is paramount as it is the factor that will impact your wallet the most – and for many years to come.

Don’t accept the sticker price on a vehicle. You should aim to get the car you want for 10% below the sticker price or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). And negotiate out a lot of the hidden fees and extra costs that are included. Tell the salesperson you’re dealing with that you won’t pay for things such as “freight” or “administrative fees.”

Try to negotiate one all-in price that includes all the fees and taxes. And read the contract you’re presented carefully before signing. If need be, take the contract home to read at your own pace. Keep the pressure on the dealership to close the deal.

The Bottom Line  

Shopping for a new vehicle can be intimidating. But you can put yourself in a positive situation by being aware of some of the bigger and more common mistakes people make when purchasing a car. Shopping around, negotiating and being honest with yourself about what you need in a car and what you can afford are commonsense tips that will help you avoid some of the pitfalls found at automotive dealerships.


Buying a New Car: Sneaky Tricks Car Salespeople Pull
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