Thinking about purchasing a car and need to be sure it's not a ‘lemon’? If you’re on the hunt for your next vehicle, there are certain common car-buying mistakes to avoid.
So slow down, breathe in, and take this guide as a refueling stop. It will help you understand what you need, and how to get behind the wheel of a reliable car at a price that you can afford.
1 Not doing your homework
Doing your research upfront is a good way to start. It may seem time-consuming, but it will actually save you time in the long run – and potentially money, too.
As always, the Internet is a great source of information. In just a few clicks, you can compare similar vehicles, prices and features, and find the best-rated car dealers in your area. You may even find an interesting deal or two. This wealth of information will come in handy, before you set foot in a car yard.
2 Not listening to your needs
Think about what you want and need from a car. More seats for your family? Something that’s easy to park and doesn’t use too much petrol? How about a four-wheel-drive to go off-road?
Once you’ve identified your wants and – most importantly – your day-to-day needs, you’ll be on the right path to finding a good match rather than falling for an impulse-buy, or adding extra features that you’re never going to use.
3 Judging on price alone
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Buy too cheap, buy twice?’
Setting a budget is obviously important, but keep in mind that sometimes it’s worth spending a little more to get a better deal. Focusing on the price tag alone may drag your attention from a car that actually gives you good value-for-money.
4 Not knowing the actual cost
The purchase price is not the only thing that matters. Do you know how much it would cost you to keep that car on the road?
Besides all periodic WoF inspections and regular car servicing, it’s crucial to be prepared for unexpected repairs and replacement bills. Also, you may want to consider taking out insurance for your vehicle – at least third-party insurance. Bear in mind that accidents can happen at any time, no matter how experienced the driver is.
5 Ignoring advice
You don’t need to go ‘solo’ (unless you want to, of course). You can take advice from a trusted source – for example, reviews from credible automotive journalists or someone you personally know who has a long experience with the car industry.
Another source is customer reviews, as long as you take them with a grain of salt: everyone is different, so make a point of reading a number of different reviews before drawing any conclusions.
Lastly, don’t forget that your friends and family may also help, especially if they have mechanical knowledge. So bring someone along when you go looking at vehicles: they may know or notice something that you don’t.
6 Buying a ‘pig in a poke’
One of the biggest mistakes that car buyers can make is skimping on a thorough test drive.
Financially speaking, buying a vehicle is a significant commitment, so try to spend as long as you need behind the wheel. Test your vehicle in different conditions including motorways and steep roads. The last thing you want is to find out that your newly-purchased vehicle makes strange noises above 80 km/h.
For additional peace of mind, why not undertake a pre-purchase mechanical inspection?
7 Not shopping around for finance
To save yourself time and money, taking the time to explore your car loan options is key. How much do you qualify for? What interest rate can you get on your own?
You may want to get a loan pre-approved in the early stages of your car-buying adventure. This way, you will be in a better position to purchase the vehicle you need at a price you already know you can manage.
For more tips and advice, take a look at our comprehensive ‘Car Buying Guide’ here. You’ll find a range of services and resources to help you through the process from start to finish.
To have your car finance sorted before you need it, call AA Finance on 0800 500 555, seven-days, between 9am and 5pm. We’re here to help.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure the content is correct, the information provided is subject to continuous change. Please use your discretion and seek independent guidance before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.