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How to Avoid a Scary Car Buying Situation

Friday the 13th is a day famously associated with the infamous villain who cursed Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees, as well as the terrifying hockey mask he wore and the huge machete he carried in hand. The movie was scary, causing several sleepless nights and even more disturbing nightmares. While some things in life are scary, buying a car should not be one of them. There are plenty of resources available to be well armed, focused and ready to make a big decision such as a used car purchase. But just like any horror film, there is a back story before the climax. Consider car buying research the back story. Gathering all the relevant information you need prior to purchase is the easiest way to make sure that your car-buying experience does not turn into a horror story.

Here are some tips to help you avoid scary situations when buying a used car.

Get a Vehicle History Report. We know just the place to get one of those! CARFAX Vehicle History Reports show data on vehicles from over 86,000 sources and over 13 billion records. These records include important information about a car’s history, such as odometer readings, the existence title issues and past registration as a fleet vehicle.

[See: A Sample CARFAX Vehicle History Report]

Budget
Image by Tax Credits via Flickr cc.

Know your budget. Run the numbers and know what you can afford. Plan your budget before you even start looking for specific cars. This will help you avoid looking at cars out of your budget, which will make it easier to stay within your means. Think about the fact that this purchase is one you might only make once every several years. In some cases, buying a car might be your first big purchase. Take that into consideration since the car you buy might be with you for a long time.

[Watch: Top Five Considerations when Budgeting for Buying a Car]

It is also very important to factor the costs associated with owning a car into your monthly budget. So in addition to your other expenses, you will now be adding costs that could include a car payment, fuel and insurance. Subtracting all of this from your monthly income to make sure the end result is a positive number is key in deciding your budget.

Watch out for hidden costs. Wouldn’t it be nice if the price on the tag was all that you have to pay? Unfortunately, there are usually some hidden costs when you buy a new or used vehicle. Things like sales tax, registration fees and insurance premiums are all added expenses not shown in the listing price, yet they still accrue at time of purchase (or shortly thereafter). Sales and local taxes can add anywhere from four to seven percent onto the purchase price of a car (unless you live in the three states that do not tax car purchases).

In addition to the tax and insurance charges, there are sometimes fees associated with the purchase of the vehicle. While some fees are negotiable, dealers may want to charge fees to prep your car, process the paperwork and set up financing for your car loan.

[Watch: Top Five Hidden Costs when Buying a Car]

Buy from a trusted source. Trust your gut. If the dealership seems sketchy, it probably is. Buying from dealers with a strong reputation and positive ratings and customer feedback will always make the most sense. Especially if these dealers offer CARFAX reports on their vehicles. This provides full transparency, proving that the dealership stands behind its cars and is committed to get you on the road in a safe vehicle.

[Read: Best Used Car Deals for February 2015]

Know the value of the used vehicle. Once your choices have been narrowed down to a few cars, it’s important to know what those vehicles are worth. Ask yourself, “What is this car worth, and what am I willing to pay for it?” There are resources available that can estimate car values of almost any used vehicle. Kelley Blue Book is the most well-known, however, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) also has guides that show the book values of cars. You can also crowd source to find out what others have paid for the vehicle before you start negotiating. If you know your budget and the value of the vehicle there is no reason to not walk away with a new car.

Upgrade
Image by DaveCub32 via Flickr cc.

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade? That is the question. There are the standard vehicles and then there are the fully loaded vehicles. There are manual locks and windows and then there are the power locks and windows. Make a list of all the bells and whistles that you want and all the ones you don’t. This will help you stay on budget.

[Read: Five Must-Have Features For Your Next Car]

Remember, a great salesperson will always try to upsell. Go into the dealership knowing what things are important to you and what things you do not need. Determine whether things like navigation, heated seats and Bluetooth are important in your next car. However, if bells and whistles are your thing, just make sure you prepare and factor it into your budget.

Purchasing a car is a very big deal and should be treated as one. So if you’re browsing the used car lots, and a new car is on the agenda for this weekend, do not let it turn into a scene from a scary movie. Follow the tips above and you should be good to go.

Going car shopping this weekend? Let us know how it goes in the comments below.

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One thought on “How to Avoid a Scary Car Buying Situation”

  1. I’m in the market for a good, used car. It can be hard, though, because you never know what you might run into. I’m mostly worried about paying a hidden fee that they weren’t up front about. I’ll definitely follow your tip about watching out for hidden costs!

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