Purchasing a car can be one of the most daunting processes there is. There are so many loop-holes and hidden terms, it’s hard to keep abreast of what is a good investment versus a bad one. Notably, single women have a harder time purchasing a car if they go to a dealership alone. Car salesmen see you as prey when you first walk into a dealership and are known for overselling women on a vehicle that not only doesn’t fit your lifestyle but definitely not your budget. It is best to be armed with the below tips to stay firm in your decisions and choice when it comes to the make and model of whatever car you want. The goal is to leave with reasonable financial terms that you can live with and a car you will enjoy.
I recently just purchased my 5th car, trust me 5 cars in ten years is a lot, but I’m thankful for the experience on how to proactively negotiate the best deal for me when it comes to selecting an affordable but reliable car.
- Budget – This is probably the most important. Be mindful of what your budget is for a car if you plan on paying monthly. Some things to take into consideration is insurance costs, APR, the total price of the car as well additional cost for overall maintenance. If you’re going luxury, keep in mind that having a warranty is the best way to go. Foreign car parts are not cheap so a warranty will cover you for any repairs/maintenance should a problem arise. Warranties are also usually covered for 100k mile or 5-year timeframe. Another factor of a budget is to determine what portion of your payments going towards interest. If you have a higher rate, you’ll like overpay for the car in interest fees.
- CarFax/Car Report – If you are going used, it’s best to get the history of the car. Has it been in any accidents? Has it been used as a rental? (This could explain high mileage) What state is it from? This could determine what type of roads or if it was mostly city mileage. (Recently cars from disaster areas; Hurricane Sandy or Katrina for example) were being sold to unsuspecting buyers. Cars had extensive flood damage amongst other issues, so it’s always best to always know what you going into. A quick VIN check is a good way to check a car out. If you’re not comfortable with a vehicle that has been in an accident, don’t be afraid to walk away from it.
- The Value of a Car vs Selling Price- This is another great way to determine if you are paying too much for a car that’s not worth it. A good reference website to get values of cars is KBB.com You can put in the make, model, mileage and zip code to determine what is the fair market value for a trade or sell. For example, a dealership may try to sell you a car for 20K when its value is only 13K. This would be a bad investment.
I went to CarMax to purchase my newest vehicle which coincidently I bought my very first car from at 18 years old. Carmax prices are no-haggle. There is no negotiating which is also common in dealerships. In my experience, the prices they have listed are accurately fair and in line with the value of the car. Carmax also provides everything from title, hard tag, registration, servicing and extended warranty. This cut out a lot of trips to the DMV to get registered and saved me time and stress!
I purchased a 2015 Acura ILX. See Photos below!