Top Mistakes You Should Avoid When Buying a Car

You already know how crucial it is to make the right choice if you are buying a vehicle, and your choice can impact your life significantly in the following years to come. The thing is, it can be challenging to figure out what you need in the first place – do you think you'd do well with a sedan, or will you find an SUV more comfortable?

What about your budget – does the car you have in mind fit this budget? What are your priorities in the first place – is its comfort, ease of use, accessibility, advanced features, safety, cargo space, or all of the above?

Top Mistakes You Should Avoid When Buying a Car

There are indeed lots of factors that can impact your choice. But not many of us are aware that car buyers also make some common mistakes without even realizing it. So what are these top mistakes you should avoid when trying to buy a car? Let's find out.


Context

  • Mistakes You Should Avoid
      • We think too much about the car’s price 
      • We don’t think carefully about the terms of financing 
      • We downplay or underestimate ownership costs 
      • We don’t place enough value on our own time 
      • We expect too much 
  • Conclusion

Mistakes You Should Avoid

We think too much about the car’s price 

Many of us have some common fears when buying a car: we’re afraid of getting ripped off or paying more for something of less value, for one. But this is mistake number 1: we think too much about the car's price and how we would hate paying too much, but in reality, we should think about something more significant as well. 

The car’s price is only one single element of the car-buying process. But when we purchase a vehicle, we often think about whether or not we got a good deal, particularly for the model, make, and year of the car we purchased. But more crucial than the car’s cost is whether or not you are acquiring the ideal car or vehicle for your requirements, not whether or not you are purchasing the best vehicle you can afford. 

In this vein, you may want to consider buying something used but only a few years old, for example, which can allow you to save more than haggling with a dealer about shaving off a few hundred dollars from the price of a new car.

We don’t think carefully about the terms of financing 

Here’s a fact that doesn’t make any sense, but most of us end up doing it as well: we haggle for hours with a dealership to get a discount of, say, $500 from the car's price, only to end up financing our purchase with no deposit at a 6% rate of interest for five years with a total overall cost of $2,000 or more.

But many of us tend to do this very thing whenever we buy a car because it's nice to think of the $500 we "saved" up-front (it's a tangible thing, after all) compared to the $2,000 we have to pay in interest alone. One common regret of buying a vehicle is the loan amounts and terms. 

Many car buyers regret not coming up with a bigger down payment, and some even regret not shopping around for a better loan interest rate. The truth is, a far-from-ideal loan will likely cost you more compared to the savings you may be able to get when you negotiate on a car’s price. 

If you have the means to do it, it's always better to pay for a car in cash. But if this isn't possible and you have to take out a loan, try to be as conservative as possible. Look for the best rates and terms, and go for a loan that is not more than three years or 36 months. Lastly, try to settle a down payment of at least 20%.

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We downplay or underestimate ownership costs 

Once you decide that you will make that car purchase, you may already be imagining yourself driving that car and enjoying full ownership of it. But hold your horses, and try your best to be practical! Of course, if you want to be practical, you would be thinking about aspects such as whether or not you're getting a good deal, whether or not the car is reliable, and whether or not it has good mileage and fuel economy. 

All these factors can add up, and they will influence your cost of ownership, as new and used car specialists like Youngautomitive.com will attest. We often downplay or underestimate ownership costs because we can easily tell ourselves that we will keep that vehicle for ten years to justify its cost. But realistically speaking, most car owners will only own a car for five years or 59 months! 

It's also easy to underestimate regular and continuous costs such as insurance, excise taxes, and maintenance. Conversely, we tend to overestimate the car's gas. If you want to get a good idea of the total cost of owning your prospective vehicle, try checking out Consumer Reports so you can get a good perspective on how various car models compete with each other.

We don’t place enough value on our own time 

Did you know that many Americans usually spend about 10 hours going car-shopping? On the other hand, we spend only around 5 hours when it comes to shopping for a mortgage! Some of us end up getting too anxious and obsessed in terms of getting the best car deal, and we’re willing to waste weeks just looking at cars and not making that final decision until we’ve seen a whole bunch of them.

But what is the actual cost of this? It's another common mistake many of us make during the car-buying process: we don't place enough value on our own time. To give you a better perspective: if you earn about $15 an hour and spend about 20 hours just purchasing a car, you will already have invested $300 worth of your time. 

So the lesson here is simple: if you place more value on your time, you will not waste endless hours shopping for a car and will instead be more precise with your needs. And this allows you to save more on your purchase. 

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We expect too much 

Here’s another common mistake many of us make when buying a car: we expect too much. Since we have too many choices in our society, we constantly feel the need to choose something as perfect as possible. This puts pressure on us and adds to our anxiety about our choice – and it also leads to a feeling of failure if we don't choose wisely. 

If something you select doesn't reach your expectations, you can be pretty disappointed. But the key to not being disappointed is not to expect too much. Instead, lower your expectations, and you may end up being happier with your choice. 

Since cars are pricey and we don't buy them often, we usually get stressed about acquiring the ideal car at the perfect price. And even if we think we did our best, we still drive away with the sneaking suspicion that we've been duped! But if you do the proper research, understand the actual cost of ownership, and keep an eye on the best financing, it's entirely possible to get a vehicle with a great price which you’ll surely enjoy for the next five or so years.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, purchasing a vehicle shouldn’t be a stress-inducing, anxiety-laden process. It should be exciting! But you will only be able to get the so-called “best” deal if you know what to look for (and what to avoid), and you value the time you spend choosing. 

If you want to make the process easier, check out different quotes from different dealers for the same model, and check out car values from sites such as Edmunds. But be smart with your borrowing, and don’t forget the value of a reasonable down payment. 

Finally, when you have your vehicle, don't forget to compare different quotes for your car's insurance because getting a good deal on insurance will help you save more in the long term. 

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