Main Menu

Car Buying Tips

There are so many considerations when purchasing a new or used car, motorcycle, motor home or other vehicle. The well-informed, diligent and educated consumer can save a great deal of trouble, expense and headaches if only doing some homework and research before making the next purchase of what for most people is their most valuable asset following their home. There are so very many choices between makes and models, new and used car dealerships, internet advertising, local or out-of-state dealers, and the list goes on that many people become intimidated, frustrated and even taken advantage of when buying a new or used car or other vehicle. That was the philosophy of Saturn to have haggle-free fixed pricing so as to lessen the pain of car shopping. It is unfortunate that the awful economy will cause another fatality in the auto industry when GM closes that brand, as it did Oldsmobile and Pontiac.

I am perhaps in the minority of folks who actually enjoys the process of hunting and acquiring a new vehicle as well as the research and negotiations in the transaction. Certainly, the sales staff and dealers have unfair advantage over consumer when it comes to the pricing, negotiation, financing and contracts or leases involved in the deal. I am surprised that personal car shoppers or experts are not more popular and used more frequently by consumers when entering into what can be a complex transaction with many traps for the unwary, lemon vehicles and even outright scams and deceptive trade practices.

One bit of advice that I give to all my students is to not sign anything unless three things are in accord:

  1. you read the whole document;
  2. you understand the terms and conditions; and
  3. the document states everything promised to you and does not differ from the verbal agreement. If not, then do not be compelled to sign.

Another tip in negotiating is to walk away from the salesperson if you are not satisfied.

You may be surprised how the deal gets better if you do so. If not, don’t worry as there are many other vehicles and offers available.

Great caution and Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) must be kept in mind to avoid gross overcharges for the vehicle, exorbitant interest rates, defective vehicles and even complete scams or robbery in the transaction. There are countless stories of trusting consumers being duped by dealers and individuals alike when buying vehicles via the internet or in person. Merely running a CarFax alone is not sufficient, since I have found from other’s misfortune numerous instances where material defects, accidents, salvage or other conditions were not disclosed in the initial report.

In this lousy economy where people are becoming desperate, some dealers are resorting to frauds and scams. One thing to be wary of is when trading in a car to ensure the existing loan is paid off by the dealer or that the used car you are buying is lien free. Also to be wary of short term versus long term changes in financing the new vehicle. Some dealers have failed to pay off the old loan on the traded vehicle or pocketed some or all of the money on the new loan on the purchased vehicle leaving the consumers with huge liability or loss, damaged credit and in some cases repossessed vehicles. Caveat Emptor, especially when dealing with small or stand alone dealers (not an authorized new car dealer) or when crossing state lines or transacting business via the internet (such as Craig’s list, ¬†eBay or classifieds). You are welcome to call my office to discuss due diligence in this field since I am an avid car collector and enjoy helping others.

Therefore, it is well worth investing perhaps a few hundred dollars to have a competent inspection service or mechanic thoroughly inspect and render a detailed report prior to purchasing a used car. Further precautions are necessary when buying a car out-of-state or via the internet, and consumers are best advised to exercise due diligence and carefully verify the credentials of the seller and personally inspect the vehicle before sending any payments. Some consumers have been duped by paying over the internet, e-Bay, etc., without appearing in person, and some who did appear have ever been robbed of their cash. So be very careful and do not be afraid to consult with an attorney and ask questions before buying or trading vehicles.

There are many other considerations, such as the various types of extended warranties, proper documentation, buying a car privately or through a dealer, etc., further addressed in my other Blogs.