Taking the fright out of buying a car

By on February 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

Being a 20-something and recently out of college, I haven’t had a lot of experience making big purchases. However, my current car is going through a seemingly never-ending series of repairs, and I’m thinking the time has come to invest in a new car. While the thought of buying a new (or used) shiny car is exciting, I also start breaking out in a cold sweat thinking of having to actually purchase the car. What do I do? How do I start? Where should I look?

After doing some research, I feel like I’m armed with the right knowledge to get out there and purchase a new vehicle and I wanted to share with you some tips that I learned along the way.

  • Start with online research. It’ll give you an idea of what you can afford and it’s always a good place to start getting lots of ideas of what you might want. Thinking pre-owned? Carmax has a great ‘Vehicle Recommendation Tool’ if you’re not sure where to start.  
  • Use Consumer Reports and Edmunds as a resource, too. These sites will provide you with a plethora of reviews, tips and safety ratings, and they will even help you determine the appropriate trade-in value of your old car.
  • If time permits, take advantage of any upcoming car shows in your area. This is a great way to look at a wide variety of new vehicles without the pressure of purchasing on the spot. This is especially helpful if you’re looking to purchase a new vehicle.
  • Prioritize. Unless you have an unlimited budget, most likely you’re going to have to make some sacrifices when purchasing your new or used car. What’s most important to you … good gas mileage, appearance, size, color or something else?
  • Get your financing in order first. If you think your budget for a new car is $20,000 and you do your research, shop and find the car of your dreams, only to then discover that the biggest loan you can get is $13,000, that’s a problem.
  • Don’t fall for a “deal.” Don’t let salespeople pressure you into purchasing a new/used vehicle just because of a “good deal” they have going on right now. Make sure you’re getting the kind of car you want first; then you can talk finances.
  • Don’t feel pressured. You’re the one with the power. You’re the one with the cash. And you’re the one making the decision. Don’t feel pressured or pushed by anyone … and if you do, just walk away. When you’re shelling out thousands of dollars, you should be able to take your time. 
  • If you’re buying a pre-owned vehicle, have your potential new car checked out by another mechanic. Used cars can be risky … unless you do your research. Have a mechanic you trust look at the vehicle before you purchase it; that service might cost you $100, but if it saves you from buying a money-pit, you’ll be thankful!
  • Let GEICO help you find the right car.  Use the GEICO Car Buying Service to research, compare and price your new vehicle online.  If you like what you see, you can even get a low, guaranteed price before you set foot inside a dealership.  That’s it — no salesmen, no haggling, just a great price and a stress-free car buying experience.

So, do you have any tips or pieces of advice that you’d add to this list? We’d love to hear them!

9 responses to “Taking the fright out of buying a car

  1. Brent says:

    I have some advice. Don’t go to a dealership that has balloons hanging from every car and/or truck on the front row and a giant monkey (balloon) wearing a swimsuit on the roof of the building. What does a gigantic plastic primate have to do with cars? Who knows… Also, always test drive the car. If you leave the dealer lot in your new untested investment and your spine cracks at the first hint of a bump in the road or your sunroof decides to remove itself from the rest of the car on the highway, you might not be too happy. And according to some, cut-rate insurance might not pay for that sunroof claim…..

  2. angela says:

    we are actually looking for a used 2005 mustang i went on line and looked up the kelly blue book on dealr cars trade ins for ours and private party make sure you do not pay to much. i have found some car lots ask 4 to 5 thousand more than what the car is worth…..i always study that on every car we look at.

  3. Angela M says:

    Research, research, research!!  My fiancee and I just bought a new car this past weekend.  We researched cars for several months. Read reviews from other drivers, also. Wrote down the ones that caught our eyes and then went and looked at them in person… test drove and got info from the sales people.  Tell them up front you have no intention on buying at this time and they shouldn’t bother you too much or try to pressue you into buying it when you’re not ready. Pictures does not justify the vehicle, you have to go and look at it yourself.  Drive it yourself.  There were a lot of cars we liked and once we saw, and drove them, we immediately crossed it off our list.   If you’re looking for a used car, the sales rep has more wriggle room – so you have the opportunity to bring them down on the price.  On a new car, not so much.  The dealership worked with us as much as she could and we drove away with the car we wanted, all the features we wanted, and the monthly payment we wanted.  Having a down payment is always a plus, too!  Another thing that most people probably forget is to factor in insurance premiums… depending on the car you want, the premium could change so always call and get a quote on the car you’re interested in!

  4. Chris St.Sauveur says:

    Just remember that the buyer has all the power and if u dont like the deal just walk away… 9 times out of 10 they will call you and magically they can work in your terms…

    also if the dealership u might buy from u see alot, try to remember how long the cars sit on the lot… the longer its there the more willing the seller will be to get rid of it..

  5. monica says:

    After buying a vehicle, how long do you have to add it to your policy?

  6. Greg Marsh says:

    monica, here’s what my pals in our service department tell me: “Customers should notify us as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can select the proper coverage to protect it. Depending on the state, coverage may be provided for newly acquired autos at the level of another vehicle on the policy for a brief period of time. So, there may be automatic coverage, but policyholders should contact us right away to make sure the vehicle is protected with the coverage package option appropriate for their new vehicle.” So don’t delay!

  7. Thomas says:

    I agree with starting online. Besides figuring out what kind of car you should get, you can see what price you should pay if you use sites like http://www.truecar.com and Edmunds.com to see what other people are paying. 

  8. chris jeffries says:

    I have a frightening story for you. Geico destroys a woman with terminal breast cancer becuase they want to save some money on a claim. Now this poor woman whose immune system is gone has to somehow buy a new car with the pennies she was given for her beloved vehicle. The lack of compassion shown to her while dealing with her claim, I am sure will comfort her in the hospital. Thank you Geico….destroying live one claim at a time.

  9. Fire Tom says:

    The treatment of sales consultants by carmax is the worst in the industry, especially since they are 100% commission (free labor) they are paid when the sell a car and that is the lowest in the industry. Tom Folliard is the CEO and has put in to place terrible working conditions. As far as the employees they are all desperate and need to earn their pay to help support their families. Tom Folliard is a greedy and needs to be Fired!