Buying a vehicle can be fun or frustrating. Most people will purchase several vehicles in their lifetimes. Some vehicle shoppers know little about what to look for or what they want, and are at greater risk of being “had.” This article is intended to assist less-experienced buyers.
There are literally hundreds of vehicles to choose from. Perhaps one of the first things you need to decide is what size of vehicle you want and how much you can afford. Vehicles range from small (Firefly), to compact (Accord), to luxury (Mercedes). They include, sport (Integra), full size (Intrepid), trucks, sport-utility vehicles (CRV), and vans (Caravan).
Once vehicle size is chosen, door number may be next. Two-door vehicles are typically cheaper to buy new and have higher resale value than four doors, depending on the vehicle. For SUVs, four doors are always a better buy. In terms of color, silver, black, blue, white, and green vehicles have the highest resale value. Typically, SUVs have excellent resale value, but are dangerous for rollovers. Most other vehicles typically decrease in value as soon as they are driven off the lot.
Avoid cars with dent-resistant doors as they are often made of cheap materials and mounted with glue. Foreign vehicles traditionally are of higher quality, longer duration, and higher resale value, but cost more. Avoid getting a new model in the first few years until the flaws have been worked out. Buy cars made in the last six months of the year (Dec.-June) for the same reason. Avoid vehicles made on Mondays or Fridays as more employee mistakes are made on these days.
The bigger the engine, the bigger the fuel consumption. Engine size is determined by the number of liters and the number of cylinders. Hence, trucks and larger SUVs have poorer gas mileage than cars. The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it will use. Listed gas mileage is based on indoor factory testing, not on actual road conditions.
If buying a used vehicle, avoid quad fours (bad head gaskets) and ouch engines (engines where the timing belt requires careful monitoring and changing to avoid complete engine failure). Avoid vehicles with rust showing on the inside bottom of the doors as this indicates the safety of the vehicle has been compromised. Rust starts on the inside and works its way out. Test for equal gaps between body parts with a pen (should be 5mm). If gap sizes vary, the vehicle may have been in an accident.
Check for paint differences by looking on the inside of the doors which would suggest an accident. Ensure the VIN number on the dashboard matches the registration number and hasn’t been scratched off suggesting it’s been stolen. Look for liquid leaks and listen for engine noises. If possible, have a mechanic inspect the vehicle before purchasing and always test drive it. Check for tire wear and rust under the vehicle which may compromise the safety of the passenger(s). Finally, always shop during the daytime!
Whether buying new or used, prices can always be negotiated. More and more people are choosing to buy their vehicle over the web to avoid haggling hassles. If you cannot pay cash, choose to finance instead of lease to avoid all of the hidden/extra costs involved and conditions. Rural dealerships typically sell vehicles for less. Buy new vehicles near the end of the month and between January and March in order to receive year end deals.
Items that cost you extra, but end up costing you more in the long run, include leather seats, sunroofs, paint protection, aluminum wheels, cruise control, fog lamps, and adjustable steering. Accessories worth purchasing include anti-theft alarms for SUVs and air conditioning. Always check price books and lemon books from the library or book stores to find out what a vehicle is worth, its good and bad points, its rating, and suggestions when purchasing.
Think about the kind of vehicle you want beforehand. Research it before walking into a dealership or talking with a private owner. Do this, and buying a car can be a lot of fun. Knowledge is power. It will enable you to get what you need at the lowest price, and to feel confident in your choice. Then, you will be in the driver’s seat!