Aside from a house, a car, particularly a brand new one, is one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to make. So it’s important to get it right, otherwise you could end up making a costly mistake!
Here are my top five car buying tips.
The first thing you need to do is consider your budget. There’s no point in researching Bentleys if you can’t afford them. Perhaps you have been saving so you know exactly how much you can spend. If you are going to take out finance, you should work out what monthly payments you can afford. However, you also need to consider the running costs, things like road tax, insurance and fuel, which will vary between models. You will make the biggest savings by far if you go for a pre-owned model. Cars lose around half their value within three years.
Research, research, research.
Before you hit the showrooms, do your research. With the majority of homes owning smartphones, tablets and laptops, there is a wealth of information available at our finger tips. Have a think about what your needs are for a car. Have you seen a model you like the look of? Have a look a the specifications and reviews. You could save yourself some time. For example, I have a Nissan Juke. It’s perfect for me giving me a high, clear view of the road and with a small family, it’s about the right size inside. However, we took my cousins to the airport once. They’re both over 6ft tall and it was a squeeze for one of them in the back. At the same time, it would be silly of us to consider a 7 seater car, we simply have no need for it.
Aside from the size and number of seats, consider things like the material of the interior. While leather may be more expensive, it’s much easier to clean than fabric, an important consideration if you have children! If you like to take a coffee on your commute, you are going to need cup holders. Think of the little things that will make your drive that much more comfortable (and be sure to cost them in if they are upgrade options).
Cars.com is a great site full of a wealth of information and car buying tips.
When you’ve got a shortlist of models that you like, arrange for test drives of them at your local dealerships. I had my heart set on a Nissan Qashqai. However once I sat in the driver seat I realised that, at that time at least, it was just too big for me. I wasn’t a driver when we got our previous car (a Ford Focus) but with the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had just sat in it before we got it. Even with the seat pumped up as high as it would go, I didn’t feel like I had a good enough view (hence the three crashes!). So consider letting the learner drivers in your family at least sit behind the wheel for a feel of it.
I am terrible at this. I don’t do haggling. Whether pre-owned, ex-showroom models or brand new there is, apparently, almost always room for manoeuvre when it comes to the price you will pay for a car. Salespeople have targets to meet, usually every quarter, so head to the showroom near the end of a quarter and you may be in luck. If, like me, you can’t bring yourself to haggle, ask for something for free. Can they add in sat nav or floor mats for you instead?
Never ever sign a contract on the day you go for your test drive. Walk away. You will, more than likely, end up being chased by the dealership leaving you in a good position to try and haggle a bit more!
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.