4 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Car

new car

new carBuying a new car can be one of the most exciting purchases you can make, but also one of the most expensive. Even a modest car is going to run you up to $30,000 or more, and luxury models can easily cost two and three times that much. Deciding which car is right for you from the hundreds of models on the market is a daunting task at first, but a little research will make your shopping experience much more smoother.

If you have never bought a new car before, you might be a little worried about making a mistake along the way. The key is to take your time and make sure that it’s something you can afford without adding any undue financial stress. With that in mind, ?below are four common mistakes that you will want to make sure you avoid before deciding to buy a new car.

#1 ? Thinking Short Term

Most likely, you are going to want to own your new car for many years to come. With that in mind, think about your car purchase with the long term in mind rather than just your immediate needs. For example, if you are planning to have kids in the next couple of years, you will want to purchase a vehicle that has room for them when they come along.

Also, if you are considering taking a job that will have you making a longer commute than you have now, good gas mileage will be something to look for. This is also not to mention the fact you’ll want to make sure your car purchase is budget friendly.

#2 ? Going In without a Plan

There is no doubt that a car dealership can be an intimidating place for a first time buyer. Everyone has heard stories of pushy sales people talking buyers into all sorts of options and features that they really don?t need. While those horror stories are usually exaggerated, they are based in some amount of truth.

To avoid that happening to you, the best strategy is to go in with a plan for exactly what you are looking for and stick with it. It isn?t enough to know what model you are interested in, but also which trim package and additional options you would like. Be as detailed as you can, so the salesperson won?t be able to upsell you on costs you don?t need. I’ve personally used both Edmunds.com?and TrueCar.com?as they both provide quality and unbiased information on a wide variety of different cars.

#3 ? Being in a Rush

Heading to the dealership with your mind made up that you are absolutely going to purchase a car that day is a recipe for paying too much. Try to be as flexible as you can, and don?t be afraid to walk away if you aren?t happy with the deal that they are offering you. In fact, I make it a practice to regularly walk away in the beginning so as to communicate I’m in no rush. It might seem rude, and you don’t want to be rude about it, but the salespeople are used to it.

Remember, it is your money, and another dealership will be happy to sell you a car if the one you start with doesn?t want to play fair. Another reason why you don’t want to be in a rush is that you want to make sure you cover all your bases with what having the given car will cost you. If you’re interested in saving money on car insurance?for example, then you’ll want to take the time to see what cars you’re interested in will cost you each month.

#4 ? Skipping the Test Drive

This should be obvious even for new car buyers, but it is worth mentioning anyway. You don?t want to buy any car that you haven?t taken on at least one test drive, if not more. Even if a car gets great reviews from magazines and other owners, that doesn?t mean you will love driving it as much as they do. Get behind the wheel and see for yourself before you commit to the purchase.

If you’re looking at buying a used car then I even recommend taking it to your mechanic to have them check it out for anything major. They might charge you a small fee to do so, but it can be well worth the cost if it means you avoiding a mistake.


What do you like least about buying a new or new to you car? Have you been guilty of any of these mistakes in the past? Have you ever bought a car in all cash?



Photo courtesy of: NRMA Motoring

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  1. I am guilty of no. 3, John. My parents bought me a car because I was really rushing them. The results, I didn’t get the car I wanted and settled to mediocre or low caliber car. I was naive then with regard to car plans and specs. But, I did test drive, the car we bought.

  2. I made mistake number 3 the last time I bought a car. My high mileage clunker finally died, and a family reunion was just around the corner. My only leverage was to tell the dealer I was ready to buy, but needed an offer to prevent me from buying at the next dealer down the road.

  3. What I love most is the smell of fresh leather!

  4. I’ve been smart for the most part but have made some mistakes. My biggest was falling in love with the price of a car. I wanted a VW Golf and the years I was looking at were all too high priced. I found one that was close to half the price and jumped on it. It did have some issues, but no biggie – so I thought.

    There were a lot of issues with the car and I finally got rid of it just before it died for good.

  5. You definitely have to have a plan. Car dealerships bank of the fact that you won’t because they typically get people stopping in for a spur of the moment look and then take advantage of you. I always do my research and have my maximum budget in place before I even step foot into a dealership.

  6. Apparently, you’re not supposed to mention what you want the monthly payment to be. Because then they can twist the numbers. (“Well, if you take out a 7-year loan instead of a 5-year one, you can keep your payment at $400!”)

    Also, don’t admit you have a trade-in until all the numbers have been settled for the new car. Otherwise, they use that to justify not discounting the car as much. Just tell them it’s a second car and, at the end, say you’ve been thinking about it and have decided to trade in.

  7. When I go car shopping, I don’t look at the monthly payment as the deciding factor. I call and ask about my insurance changes. I call and ask about the increased fee for tags and taxes. I also look at what the overall cost will be if I don’t pay it off early. There are definitely more things to consider than just what your monthly car payment will be.

  8. Bryan says:

    For new cars:

    Don’t buy the Scotch guard for $250. It the same stuff you buy at the store for $5 a can.

    Don’t buy the “super paint protection”. Just make sure you get a coat of wax on your car twice a year

    Don’t pay for the simple pin stripe down the side of the car. In most cases it tape stripe. It takes under
    10 minutes put on, and is about $20 in materials

    Don’t pay for the undercoating hundreds of dollars. Its just a spray that takes 20 minutes to put on, and again uses like $20 in materials

    Don’t buy the “serial number glass etching”. You can get kits to do this at home, for the fraction of the cost that they are charging you.

    Don’t buy the extended warranties from the dealer. If you want a extended warranty, check around and get the best price. My wife really wanted one for our new Ford Focus, and the dealer wanted $1700 for the one she wanted. I found one from a Ford dealer in Detroit for $600.

    I worked in a Chevy dealer for 2 years, and it has made me WAY more savvy about what all the add ons cost.

    For ANY car

    If your salesmen pulls out the “four square” to show you numbers, just get up and walk away. All its made to do is confuse you.

    ALWAYS check the paperwork to make sure its accurate. Get in writing the price you agreed on, the price for your trade in if applicable, length of loan you agreed on, and interest rate on the loan you agreed on.

    I think thats about all i got.

  9. Having a plan is crucial. If you don’t have a good idea of what you want to buy, how much you want to spend, and how you want to pay for it, the dealer will be happy to give you ideas that benefit them, not you. I always do my research ahead of time.

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