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The Art of Purchasing a Vehicle

Updated on June 27, 2010

The mere thought of it makes some cringe and want to run for cover. Why is it that we get so nervous when it comes time to buying a car? Is it that we feel intimidated or pressured to buy? Could it be that it's just too many numbers to crunch, and not enough time? Are we afraid we'll get bullied or badgered into buying something we're unsure about? I am here to talk about all the things people go through when it comes time to purchase a vehicle.

What we will talk about here, is the best approaches to buying a new or pre-owned vehicle from a dealership. One huge benefit a customer (us) has at their disposal is the Internet. We can use this to find reviews on everything from dealerships, to the costs of the vehicles themselves. As long as you arm yourself with the information you need to make your next auto purchase, you will be just fine. The stereotypes of the car salesman plaid polyester suits with the gaudy gold jewelry are things of the past. These days, quality dealerships employ themselves with sales representatives that really know their products, and usually go the extra mile to make their customers happy. This is the new standard in the auto sales industry. Sales representatives are now partially compensated on what is called a "customer service Index."

This is a questionnaire filled out by the buyer once the sale of their vehicle has been completed. If the customer service Index is low in score, they may miss out on some vital bonuses. It is really in the salespersons interest to treat you as well as possible.

You should never feel intimidated when walking into a dealership. The people who work there are there to help you an answer at the millions of questions you have them. That's what they are there for!

Should I buy New or Used?

Just in case there were any people out there who were still wondering what the better deal is, here is the answer.


Buying a pre-owned vehicle will save you thousands of dollars up front. It is best to purchase a pre-owned vehicle that is only one or two years old. The reason for this, is because you want a vehicle that is still under the manufacturer's warranty, taking out the risk of purchasing a pre-owned vehicle. The value of a new automobile drops drastically second you drive off the lot.

This is not the case with the pre-owned vehicle. By law, and he used automobile has to pass a rigorous inspection to become a retail piece. This fact, combined with an existing warranty, takes the headache and risk of buying a used car out of the equation.

On the flip side of things, buying in the car is not the worst thing either, and many people do. Buying new is a better idea for people who tend to hang onto their vehicles for a longer period of time. (7-12+ years)

Car owners who drive them maintain their car for lengths of time like this tends to have the money saved for another new vehicle when the time comes. You also get the satisfaction of knowing that no one else has been in your car before you. For some, the new car smell is a must!

Buying or leasing new also helps stimulate the economy!

Buying New Versus Leasing

For this section on buying new versus leasing, you may be surprised at what I am going to tell you. Well, the fact is, I don't really have a decisive winner here. I will say that leasing is not the worst thing in the world for lots of people, and lots of reasons. Let me give you some of those reasons:

1) You get to drive a brand-new vehicle every 2 to 4 years.

2) You will have relatively low monthly payments compared to financing. (with little to no money down)

3) You will be driving a vehicle completely covered under warranty for the duration of the lease.

**Note be very aware of your mileage!! Do not go over your 10,12, or 15k/year mileage, or you will pay dearly (.18-.35 cents PER mile) !

And for all of you more conservative folk, there are also great reasons to buy. Here they are:

1) Once the car is paid off, you have equity in your vehicle (Whatever it is worth)

2) You don't have to worry about customizing or adding any features to your car as it is yours to do what you would like.

3) You don't have to worry about paying for scratches or small dents once your payments end.

4) There are no mileage restrictions when you are financing the vehicle.


The Negotiation

The best thing you can do for yourself when negotiating the price of the vehicle you are interested in, is to be educated on what you are purchasing and potentially trading in. The salesperson will likely ask you pretty early on if you have a vehicle to trade. The best answer for this is "I'm not sure yet."

Your success in negotiating increases by holding off on trade-in figures until you work the price of the vehicle down first. This will help you realize the true price of the vehicle they are selling you, and what type of discounts you are receiving.

When it comes to trading a vehicle in, there are free sources on the Internet you can use to get an idea of what your vehicle is worth. (,

As convenient as these sources are, they are not the ones who are going to be buying the car from you. You have to realize this when negotiating. There are variables to consider when trading in such as:

*Vehicle Service records (do you have any)

*Money required to get your vehicle into retail condition

You can negotiate a trade in value for your car just as you can negotiate the price of a car you are purchasing. Just be straight with the salesperson, let them know that you are interested and what you want to pay, and they will work hard to make a deal you're happy with.

Negotiations don't have to be these highly awkward and anxious situations where it seems like you're in a gunfight with the salesperson. Take someone you trust along with you to make you feel more comfortable.

The salesperson should always be courteous, knowledgeable and happy to answer any and all questions you have about your potential purchase. It's okay if they don't have all the answers themselves as long as they get an answer for you before you leave.

Car dealerships are not what they used to be in regards to with holding information on vehicles. You have resources such as Carfax for pre-owned cars and invoices of new vehicles posted on the Internet.

Knowledge is power, and will make for a lot less of a headache when you're sitting in the buyer's chair at a dealership.

I wish you all good luck, and I hope you have a pleasurable car buying experience!

What do I need with me at a deaership if I want to Test Drive?

The only thing you'll need in order to test drive a vehicle at a dealership is a valid driver's license. There are some exceptions if you are looking to test drive a $100k+ automobile (proof of insurance and/or valid credit card), but I will assume you are more curious about vehicles most people are in the market for.... meaning, like, normal priced vehicles :) Just a Drivers license.

An automotive Poll

When will your next car purchase be?

See results

See? Buying Cars is Simple :)

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