Mistakes you need to avoid when buying a car

By WhichCar Staff, 18 Feb 2017 Car Advice

car salesman at dealership

Looking to buy a new car? Make sure you don’t make these common errors

Buying a car is a big decision and it comes at a big cost, but it doesn’t need to be so scary. Learn to avoid these five common mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to getting that new-car feeling and avoiding the dreaded buyer’s remorse.

Skipping the research

Look, the internet is so easily accessible these days, there’s really no excuse for skipping the research step. Not looking at what’s out there and filtering through your options is the first mistake you can make as a car buyer. There’s so much available, there may be something that suits your check list for a more affordable price.

Read reviews of people who have actually driven the cars and find out all your need to know from the experts (have you seen the website WhichCar.com.au? We hear they’re a pretty good place to start). Arm yourself with knowledge and you’ll avoid walking out of a dealership with a car you were talked in to buying rather than a car you wanted to buy.

Settling for dealership financing

Dealership financing is convenient, but don’t be suckered in to thinking it’s the best. Sure, zero percent financing will sound appealing, but remember, as with all loans, there’s always the fine print and you could end up paying a lower monthly fee, but for a longer period of time.

Banks and credit unions are as competitive as car dealerships, so before you set foot in a dealer, find out what loan deals are available and get pre-approval. Then you can compare that against the dealerships offer, and use it as a negotiating point.

Only visiting one dealer

There are a lot more buyers out there who only shop at a single dealership than you realise. But even if you know the salesperson or you’ve bought all your cars from him before, that doesn’t mean they are offering the best price.

The bonus is that these days a lot of dealerships also put their best deals online, so it makes it easier to shop around, pick a couple, pay them a visit, and negotiate.

If you feel disloyal shopping elsewhere, then at least you have a bargaining chip to take to your regular salesperson.

Not being prepared to negotiate

A car’s sticker price is usually the manufacturer suggested price, so they’ve got a hefty margin and give dealers a lot of room to negotiate, making an average deal appear a lot better.

Find out what the dealer price is (the amount they paid the manufacturer) and use this as a starting point for your negotiation. You won’t get it profit-free, obviously, (it’s a business after all) but you’ll be able to get a better deal than just paying sticker price.

Not asking questions about dealer extras

“We’ll even throw in…” is always an appealing phrase when you’re trying to make a deal. But did you know dealers make more money on extras and servicing than they do on the actual margin of the car? So while accessories are an extra bargaining chip to sweeten a deal, they’re also likely to use these to up the final price you’re paying.

Things like fabric or paint protection, wheel insurance, or floor mats can sometimes be unnecessary costs. Make sure you’re only buying what you want and be aware that sometimes you can buy accessories elsewhere. Don’t settle for the added cost.