Finding and buying the perfect car is no easy task. There are many decisions to make and many colors to choose from. The price of course, has to be a deciding factor, as well as how much you drive the car daily. After all, the price of gas should make you decide perhaps on a smaller car.
- Make a list of what you’re looking for in a car. Some criteria include appearance, performance, safety, reliability, size, comfort, fuel efficiency, cost, resale value, transmission type, engine size, kilometers, miles per gallon, mileage (if buying a used car), as well as color.
- Organize the list in terms of how important the criteria are to you. For example, if you had a choice between a slick, cherry-red convertible that has questionable safety standards, and a solid, protective Volvo that would sacrifice its life to save yours – but looks like something your mother would drive – what would you choose?
- Browse car books and judge models according to your criteria. Make a list of the models that best fit what you’re looking for.
- Search for your favorite models at car dealerships, in classified ads, and on the Web.
- Choose a dealership carefully. Once you find one you feel would fit your needs, select a salesperson. Visit the dealership, sit at the table and watch how they work with others, and how they talk on the phone to customers, and if they negotiate so that the customer gets a better deal. Also be careful, because many car salesmen can be pushy, they are after all trying to make a sale, so buyer beware. Make sure you check the car carefully for faults, or design problems. Availability of merchandise is always an issue for a dealership. It is impossible for every dealership, to carry every car, in every color, on everyday of the year, especially if you are buying clearance which is usually at the end of the year when vehicle production for that year has stopped.
- Before buying a used car, take the car to a qualified mechanic for a complete prepurchase inspection.
- Check out Consumer Reports. It’s arguably the best place to look for impartial reviews, ratings, crash tests, reliability forecasts, and pricing guidelines for new and used cars. Start with their list of recommended cars, research them, pick out a few you like, and then go to the dealer. They also have an excellent guide to new car buying, a guide to used car buying, and even a guide to buying cars for teens. Much of their info is free, but a subscription is well worth it…they review everything from chocolate to computers.
- When you have done your homework, and know what you want in a car, then visit the dealership.
- Act as if you know what you are talking about, do not allow them to sway you from what you are honestly looking for. Be confident and firm, and if they start swaying you to another choice, then just leave.
- When you go to a dealership, bring your spouse, or a friend. You are more likely to be taken seriously. If you do not have one, then walk in with an air of confidence. If you are a single woman, it is good to bring a male friend who knows about cars, so that you don’t let the dealer mislead you. Sales people will try to take advantage of you, don’t trust them.
- Make sure you read the contract completely. Do not sign, unless you understand exactly what you are signing. If you are not sure, then take the contract home, and have an attorney read it. Once you sign, you have bought the vehicle!
- Always test drive the car, check things like; the sound of the engine, whether the windscreen wipers work, air-conditioning (if applicable), heater, indicators, and lights. Check for cup holders, compartments, the rear boot, the seat quality (no rips or stains), look in the bonnet to make sure nothing funky is going on, Check the comfort of the seats (will this car be comfortable on long trips?), The visibility (is it easy to see other cars?), does it have seat belts, air bags, roof handles, Sun shades, radio (CD or tape), and whether it works.
- Always ask yourself if the car you are buying is worth the money they are asking. If not, make a lower offer, and if they refuse, don’t worry – there are plenty more cars out there, the perfect one is just waiting for you to come along and buy.
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Sources and Citations
- Consumer Reports Car Reviews
- Edmunds.com – Reviews of nearly every car manufactured today
- Ebay Motors – Great way to see pictures of a vehicle
- Cars.com – More reviews
- Vehix – car listings*
- Auto Trader – car listings*
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