Things to Look out for When Shopping for a Car

Searching for a new car can be a time-consuming and stressful experience. With such a significant purchase, it is essential that you take your time and tread carefully through the process. A combination of common consumer mistakes and tricky dealership tactics account for the unfortunate number of people who are less than completely satisfied after driving home in their new vehicle.

If you want to be a savvy shopper, here are a couple of the things to be wary of when purchasing a car.

0% Car Finance

It seems pretty fantastic, sure. But a car dealership is one of those places where things that sound too good to be true usually come with a catch. The reality is that a retailer who forgoes the interest on a car loan has to make up the profit margin in another area. In most cases, the price of a car purchased using a 0% finance option will not be up for negotiation – it is full retail or no deal. This can mean you end up paying the same as you would have by financing with a standard interest rate (or even more in some circumstances).

Most salespeople will be upfront about how this price difference works. To verify the overall price difference yourself, you can use a car loan calculator, such as the one on the Heritage Bank website. Even if the costs work out about the same, the fact remains that this 0% offer is essentially a marketing tactic to get you into the dealership. Don’t be convinced that this feature alone makes the retailer in question a better choice than their competitors.

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The Heat of the Moment

Car salespeople may have an unfairly negative reputation for being pushy, but this is one stereotype that has a strong foundation in reality. Many dealerships train their floor staff to turn up the pressure and create a sense of urgency with the intention of closing the deal in person – preferably before you can go home and do some research and comparing.

It is important to remember that an opportunity is rarely going to disappear overnight; a sales rep will not turn you away if you leave and come back the next day. Let the dealer know you will not be making an impulse purchase. If they do not take the hint, consider moving onto a retailer that shows more patience and respect. A good car salesperson should be persuasive yet polite, with a genuine interest in helping you make the right selection.

Used (and Abused)

Test driving a potential purchase is a great way to make sure its comfort and performance match up with your expectations. If you are looking at a pre-loved vehicle, however, taking a test drive is simply common sense. Hitting the road in what might become your next car is the best way to identify any flaws or issues that are not obvious just from inspecting the vehicle. Does the wheel inch to one side while driving straight? Does the brake take a millisecond longer to respond than you are comfortable with? These are the sorts of deal breakers that can only be revealed during a test drive, so never skip this step.

There are many more things to watch out for when car shopping than can fit into this single post, but these are three key ones to keep in mind as you hit the automobile market. Have you encountered some mistakes or tricks of your own in the past? Please share your acquired wisdom with other readers in the comments below.


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