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What to consider when buying a car

What to consider when buying a car

By Carolyn Hauck on May 05, 2015

Buying a car—either new or used—can be an overwhelming task. But with a little research and preparation, you can make a decision and drive home with a car you and your family will love.

Most people start the process by first narrowing down a price range and deciding whether or not to buy a new or used car. They say on average a new car loses 20% of its value as soon as you drive off the lot, but if you want to take advantage of improved safety features and driving assistance tools like GPS and rearview cameras, a new car might be right for you.

Buying a used car, especially one that’s newer can come at great value, as they’ve been developing new safety features and installing GPS for several years now. The drawback is knowing whether or not the used car has any undocumented defects.

Dealing with the dealership

If you’re planning on visiting a used car dealership, it’s important to feel comfortable, so choose a reliable one in your area. You should feel comfortable asking the dealer lots of questions, taking more than one test-drive, and even taking a used car to a mechanic for a pre-inspection before you buy.

Safety ratings are an important consideration, especially if you’re planning on purchasing a family vehicle. You can either ask the dealer about the crash test ratings for different makes and models, or do the research online at Insurance Institute of Highway Driving and other online consumer resources.

Be smart with your money

Research and preparation are both key in making you feel sure about a purchase. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

 - Check the car’s fair value on Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds website so you don’t pay too much or have leverage when settling on a price with the dealer.

-  Be sure to work with your bank or credit union to secure a loan before working directly with a dealership’s finance department. You will probably get a better rate through your bank.

- Fuel efficiency can play a major role depending on how much driving you do. You’ll also want to know if a car will only run on a higher quality fuel as the cost on that can start to add up.

Make sure you make a confident and informed decision, because it’s difficult to return a car after purchase. Besides being protected by your state’s lemon laws, consumers don’t have much leeway when it comes to buyer’s remorse with a vehicle. As one Consumer Protection Lawyer on JustAnswer cautioned, “If you have not picked up the car yet, the car dealer can simply call the finance company and have them repossess the car from their lot and sell it at auction. They can then charge you with any deficiency judgment between the amount that the finance company paid the dealer and the amount that they were able to get at auction for the car.”

Mechanics can offer suggestions for what vehicle would work best for you or your family.