Back when I got in the car sales business, I had to go through a weeklong training session. The man doing the training said many things, but one thing that stuck with me was “there is no way a part-time customer who buys a car every five years can outsmart a full-time car salesman”. There is a lot of truth in that statement, although with the Internet, the playing field has leveled somewhat. I still hear from listeners who make some classic mistakes, which I want to cover in this article.
*Not trusting your gut: If you are in a car dealership and something just doesn’t feel right with the business or the salesperson, leave. There is probably good reason for your feelings.
*Believing everything you read online: I hear people all the time start a sentence with “I hear” and I know it is code for someone who read something online. I can go online and find something bad about every car ever made. Just remember, the happy people, whether it is about a car or a dealership, don’t generally take the time to tell people. There is also no way to verify the information is accurate.
*Rushing the paperwork process: Too often, people just want to get their new car and leave. They don’t read what they sign, and are often surprised down the road to find out they purchased a lot of add-ons, like extended warranties, etc. Look at everything you sign. Pay particular attention to items that have dollar amounts next to them. You are signing a legal, binding, contract-read it!
*Taking an improper test drive: Although new, two cars of the same brand can drive differently. Take the time to drive the car you are actually going to buy to make sure everything is OK with it. You do not want to start out with problems, or overlook an option that is important to you.
*Know your credit score: It is always a good idea to know where your credit rating stands. The less than trustworthy dealers will try to gain power over you if you have less than perfect credit. This will result in you paying a higher price for a vehicle, and also a higher interest rate than you deserve.
*Don’t play games: I have people ask me all the time about withholding info from a dealership, like whether or not you have a trade-in, or how you are paying for the car. Good dealerships will not play games with you, and in return, you should not play games with them. The decision to buy should be based on mutual trust, once you’ve done your research!
*Know what interest rate you can get: If you have a bank credit union you have a relationship with, find out what interest rate they can give you. This may not be the same as their best rate. Give the dealership a chance to meet or beat the rate. There are often extra rebates if you finance with the dealership, so the effective rate could be less. A good dealership will steer you in the right direction.
*Leasing when you should not: I see people who lease who should not all the time. They too often get caught up in a lower payment, but you must watch your mileage limits. Also, long term leasing is not a good idea, more than 42 months is too much. I also never recommend 3rd party lease companies, you can get a better deal going direct to a dealership.
If you can avoid these mistakes, you’ll get a much better overall deal, and have a happy ownership experience.