It Followed me Home: 5 Most Common Car Buying Mistakes

By: DavidPage

1. Failure to think critically about Wants and Needs

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a couple think about buying a huge SUV to “haul the inlaws around,” despite knowing that it is not practical.

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  • They don’t visit town often.
  • It’s way cheaper to rent a huge SUV than buy one when your in-laws are visiting.

The same applies to buying a large truck to transport a boat that is rarely used, or buying a sports coupe or convertible when you really need a family car. etc.

To avoid making this mistake, grab a piece of paper and draw a line across the middle. Next, write “wants” and “needs” on each side. Are you able to transport your children to school (or soccer practice once per week) with enough space? This is a necessity. You want to be able to transport extended family members around your home when they come over every other year. This is probably something you want.

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Keep these facts in mind when making your list:

  • It is much cheaper to rent a large vehicle than to buy and drive it every day.
  • If you only need a truck for occasional hauling or towing, it is possible to rent (or borrow) one.
  • You can rent convertibles or sporty coupes at almost any airport in the USA and Canada. It’s often a better investment than buying one.
  • All luxury features are nice and well, but they come with a price. As enjoyable as heated steering wheels or panoramic sunroofs may be, money could be used to pay off debts, save, or even for a vacation.
  • People who are able to identify what they need in a car can often save thousands over people who just buy whatever they want.

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2. Failure to consider all options

In my many years of working in the car industry, I have met many people who refuse to look at all options. Some people refused to purchase a particular brand of car due to a personal bias. etc.

Although I understand personal preferences, they can often be arbitrary. Worse, they can lead to poor decisions. People will ignore a vehicle or type of vehicle that is almost perfect for them and purchase a vehicle that is not the right fit.

Also, you can test drive a minivan.

3. Failure to Price Compare

It is important to compare offers from multiple dealerships when you are ready to purchase a car. Although this may seem obvious, some people neglect to compare offers at multiple dealerships. While most people can shop multiple dealers to find the best vehicle price they are not as good when it comes getting trade valuations, financing estimates, or pricing for accessories.

You should also check for incentives and financing options from multiple dealers when you are buying a new vehicle.

It’s a good idea to research used car values on eBay and Craigslist before you purchase.

You should trade the same way as the previous trades. Make sure to study the market carefully, since trade-in values estimates are only that – estimates.

You should get multiple quotes if you are going to purchase an extended service contract or GAP insurance, remote start, and any other “extra”

4. Failure to Learn Basic Math

Here’s an easy trick every car buyer should know:

Ask each dealer for a monthly payment estimate, as well as a quote on the vehicle’s asking and trade-in values.

Multiply the monthly payment by the term and then calculate this number. This sum includes taxes and fees.

Compare total costs and ask price to compare offers.

This is an important step as dealers frequently “pack” payments with additional fees or fail to disclose the calculated rate of interest. This simple math will help you spot dealers who are not being truthful about their payment quotes.

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5. Think with your heart instead of your brain

It is easy to be tempted by a car, at least for me. That means you need to be careful when buying a car. Don’t let yourself be “sucked in by” a car that you don’t have the budget for or don’t use. You could regret it.

It’s hard to buy a car. It’s not easy to buy a car. There are tons of “car buying tips” and advice. But I’m going flip it. I’m going tell you what I have seen over my many years as a manager and salesperson at a dealership.