My first car was a Toyota Rav4. I wanted it because it looked cool and a friend had one. Yes, that was my reason. So I started looking for one with guidelines such as “oh, and if it was red, it would be even better”! It turns out my friend who was driving one had given much more thoughts to the purchase and it ended up being a sturdy model, easy to drive, very strong for its light weight (I bought a 3 door model) BUT this is not the way you should look for a car! You should research everything, from the number of miles per gallon to the cost of insurance or AA breakdown coverage. Here are a few tips to avoid making costly mistakes
Do your research
It is perfectly fine to have a crush on a certain brand or make. But once you think you have the car of your dreams in mind, make sure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare for lack or proper research. There are plenty of websites with customer ratings, information about security, reliability, and so on. The car you like may have been car of the year in 2005, but a relocation of its factory in 2006 to a country that is not as strict with safety could have meant a serious change in the car features and performance.
Try to find out what users say about the specific year and make of the car you have your eyes on. Go around a few dealerships to see if they tell the same story. Ask a friend who drives on what he or she really thinks about it.
Have it checked
Bring a friend over or take the car to a mechanic for a quick check. While you can easily spot a cosmetic imperfection, it is much harder to know the shape of the engine. Ask how much longer until you need a change of oil, filter, brake pads or tires. Review all lights, open and close the windows, turn on the AC, the heat… make sure everything works, and ask for a discount if you find out something that was not mentioned in the car description.
Know your prices
As I explained earlier, I was willing to pay premium for a red car. The only model that was red was about $750 more and that seemed a bit steep so I went for blue, and could have had it painted for less than that. Some features are being sold at a premium and sometimes it is worth getting the basic car and adding what you need yourself.
The more you know about the prices, the more power you have to negotiate.
Cash is king, so you can ask for the lowest price on credit, then offer to pay cash for an additional discount.
You should also be aware of the price of insurance. Thanks to online comparison sites, you can easily determine what this particular car would cost you every month in insurance. Make sure you can afford it, and if the rate sounds expensive, consider driving another car with a lower insurance premium.
Search until you are blue
Go online and offline. While car dealers usually have high prices, many online private sellers adjust to the dealer’s price or slightly lower, and it is not worth buying through them since you don’t get the dealer’s guarantee or low rate financing.
If a dealer has a 12 months guarantee and a 0.9% finance plan over 36 months, that is worth more than a $100 discount to buy privately a car with no guarantee.
So go around, write down a few prices with their respective conditions, go back home and search the web for a better deal, and so on until you are satisfied with the price and condition of your vehicle. It is a buyers market so take your time, the sellers will always tell you that buyers are fighting for the car and it will be gone by the end of the day but this is rarely the case.
What tips do you have to get the best deal on a car?
Bring somebody who can speak car talk or who is a mechanic! This is especially helpful at dealerships. It’s a good way to ensure that nobody will try to take advantage of you.