10 Common Mistakes Car Buyers Make

Buying a new vehicle is exciting! However, it’s easy to end up overpaying for a new or used vehicle if you let the excitement cloud your judgment. Here are ten common mistakes car buyers make and tips to help avoid them.

Setting Your Sights on a Specific Model or Dealership

When searching for a new vehicle, you shouldn’t target a single model. Time may be a factor in your purchase, but there could be alternative vehicles that would actually be better for your family and budget.

Before heading to the dealership, go online to compare ratings, reviews, safety, reliability, and pricing. Becoming a knowledgeable buyer will make you much more confident.

Shopping around at different dealerships also conveys that you’re keeping your options open. Don’t be shy about telling the salesperson which other dealerships you’re talking to.

Skipping the Test Drive

It’s easy to assume that what looks good on paper translates to real life. However, shiny brochures and catchy descriptions aren’t enough — you need to feel how the vehicle drives for yourself and ensure there aren’t any hidden surprises.

Spend at least 30 minutes test-driving and inspecting the vehicle inside and out. It’s worth the effort to avoid buyer’s remorse.

Not Digging Deeper Into a Used Vehicle’s Condition

It’s easy to hide the true condition of a used vehicle. Test-driving is a helpful way to catch hidden problems, but it’s not a fail-safe. Be sure to look up the VIN to learn about the vehicle’s maintenance and accident history.

You can use VinCheck.info to look up the VIN and learn the history of the vehicle you are considering purchasing.

Negotiating Down Instead of Up

It’s always wise to haggle with the salesperson, but you’re doing it backward if you negotiate down from the sticker price.

Instead, you should ask what the dealership paid for the vehicle and negotiate up from there. This gives you a better idea of the dealer’s profit margin, allowing you to determine a reasonable price range that benefits both parties equally.

Only Focusing on the Monthly Payment

One of the first questions you may hear is, “What kind of monthly payment are you looking for?” Don’t take the bait!

If this becomes the main focus of negotiations, the salesperson may lump the vehicle price, trade-in value, and loan or lease terms together, giving the dealer far too much latitude to fabricate the appearance of a “good deal.”

Instead, negotiate one thing at a time, starting with the vehicle’s price. Then, discuss the trade-in value, followed by financing or leasing to determine the monthly payment.

It’s also important to determine your budget beforehand so you know what kind of monthly payment you can afford. Try our easy-to-use Auto Loan Payment Calculator to crunch some numbers.

Forgetting to Research the Value of Your Trade-In

If you don’t know what your current vehicle is worth, the salesperson may make you a trade-in offer lower than what it’s worth. To avoid this, look up your vehicle’s retail and wholesale price on Kelley Blue Book.

Also, don’t worry about fixing minor problems with your vehicle before trading it in. New tires, wiper blades, and an oil change won’t add much value. Put that money toward your new vehicle.

Skipping the Call to Your Insurance Company

If the vehicle you’re considering is significantly newer or higher in value than your current ride, you could be in for sticker shock when you update your insurance coverage.

For a look at the big picture, give your insurance agent a call and explain what you’re considering. You may need gap insurance, which you might not have thought of, or you could be required to increase your coverage depending on your financing decisions.

To learn more about gap insurance, check out the Frequently Asked Questions on Connexus’ Auto Loans page or schedule a chat with one of our auto lending experts.

Ignoring Other Long-Term Costs of Ownership

Certain vehicles come with higher long-term costs than others. For example, fuel efficiency, fuel type, maintenance costs, and other factors could raise the long-term cost. Many high-end vehicles also tend to have higher repair bills.

Agreeing To Buy Unnecessary Extras

It’s common practice for salespeople to upsell you on extras you don’t really need. These may include rust-proofing, paint and fabric protection, or VIN etching. Decline all of these add-ons.

Reliability surveys show that rust isn’t a serious concern with modern vehicles because they’re already coated to prevent corrosion. You can also treat the paint and fabric yourself with inexpensive products. If you want VIN etching, you can purchase a do-it-yourself kit for a fraction of the cost.

Failing to Pre-Qualify for an Auto Loan

You might be an expert at negotiating the price, but you could lose everything you saved if you don’t choose your financing carefully.

Many shoppers enter the dealership without considering where they might get an auto loan, assuming the salesperson will secure something for them. However, dealers often mark up the interest rate over what you actually qualify for to boost their profit. This could cost you significantly over the course of the loan.

This is why it’s critical to shop around and get pre-qualified before you head to the dealership. Compare several lenders to find the best rate and term to fit your needs. Read more about the benefits of getting pre-qualified ahead of time.

When you are ready to purchase a new or used vehicle, we are here for you! Visit our Auto Loans page to schedule a chat with one of our auto lending experts and view our competitive rates.