Text by Blair Korchinski
Every few years most of us find ourselves having to buy a vehicle. Since investing in a vehicle represents a three to ten year commitment for most of us, making the wrong choice either leaves us uncomfortable for a long time or causes unnecessary expense.
As long as you are realistic in your expectations, buying a new car should not be an ordeal. You should be able to find a vehicle that suits your needs and your budget.
Here are ten tips to make the process easier.
Decide what you need.
Do you need seating for two or eight? Do you haul large loads? Is four-wheel drive a requirement? Do you commute? Do you have environmental concerns? Who will be driving the vehicle? What is your budget?
Deciding what your needs are before you begin will save you money and time.
New or used?
New vehicles come with piece of mind, can be ordered with the specific options you prefer, have lower rates of repair, last longer, and have better warranties. They also depreciate very quickly as soon as you drive them off of the lot.
You may be able to get a much more suitable vehicle for your money if you buy used, especially if you require expensive options on a limited budget. A good used vehicle may be the best choice for you.
What is available?
Once you have decided what your needs are, it is time to look around the market. How many makes and models are available that suit your needs? How many of those are within your price range? Are there dealerships and service available in your area?
Do your research.
If you’ve followed steps one to three, you will have narrowed your choices down to a few suitable models. At this point, you should research these models specifically to determine which models you are most interested in.
When test driving, try to drive not only the same model, but one with the same option package as you are planning to buy. There is little point in testing the four-cylinder version if you plan to buy the six-cylinder. Everybody who is likely to drive the vehicle regularly should take a turn driving.
If you are test driving several vehicles, keep notes so you can compare.
Get a second opinion.
Take a friend. The more skeptical that friend is, the better.
If you are buying used, get your regular mechanic to check the car over. Many provinces have safety and/or smog checks. These are not the same as having a car checked for mechanical defects.
Do more research.
If you are buying used, now is the time to run a title check to ensure that the car is not a used taxi that has been rebuilt after a serious crash.
If you are buying new, check into the reputation of the maker, the dealership, the number of recalls on the model you are considering, and the way the maker and the dealership deal with warranty issues.
You might be able to save money by taking a vehicle that is not the color you want or has fewer options than you prefer. If certain options are something you are willing to live without to save money, be prepared to give them up for a better price.
Know your trade-in value and talk about it last.
It’s easy for a dealer to quote an inflated price for your trade-in, then up the price of your new car to make up the difference. It is also possible for them to underestimate the value of your trade-in once you’ve settled on a price for your new car.
Know what your trade-in is worth to ensure you are given a fair price.
Be prepared to walk away.
If the salesman is not giving you the deal you want, it isn’t at all rude to walk away. Sometimes they will suddenly lower the price and sometimes you will lose the deal. There are no shortages of cars or salesmen. You can always go elsewhere.