If you are like many others, just the thought of walking into a dealership fills you with a rush of emotions. You are likely excited because you are getting a new car, or a previously owned one that better fills your needs, and then you are probably stressed about finances as well. In addition to excitement and stress, you may feel your anxiety levels rise, simply from fear of the unknown. How do you know you are getting a good deal? Will your salesperson be using a lot of lingo you won’t understand? Will they pressure you into buying today?
The easiest way to make sure that you have the most rewarding experience is to be prepared. Touch up on key terms you may hear, have a list of all the qualities you are looking for in a vehicle and most importantly, ask the five very important questions below. This is a significant purchase. You have every right to get all the answers you need to make an educated decision. If your salesperson talks about your questions, know that there are plenty of other dealerships in Orange County where you will find friendly and knowledgeable salespeople who will be eager to help.
What vehicles will best fill my needs?
Many people go to a dealership for a specific vehicle, and have not one doubt in their mind that the car they picture themselves driving around Southern California is the exact vehicle they want. The problem comes when they are not able to come to terms with financing. Sometimes, a dealer can mark a car down to the cost, and it is still not going to get you in your payment range.
The best thing to do is make a list of what features are important to you. Maybe safety is your top concern as you are always hauling little ones, or perhaps you need a vehicle that is going to give you great fuel economy with all the in-city driving you do. If you can make a list of your wants and needs, and a price you would be comfortable paying, your salesperson can help find you the perfect vehicle.
What financing options do I have?
If you are unfamiliar with leasing, you may be tempted to immediately shut the idea of one down, without even considering it. However, if there is a great lease incentive on a vehicle, your payment will be significantly less than if you financed. Alternatively, if there are cash back or low interest rate specials then financing may be the way to go. Ask your salesperson what your options are. If you want to compare a finance and lease on a vehicle, just ask. Then you can choose the terms you are most comfortable with.
Is this vehicle certified?
If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle, you will want to know if the vehicle is certified. If it is then it will be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty for a specified amount of time or mileage. Understand that some small independent dealers will label their vehicles as certified, meaning that their personal mechanic has checked them over. They might even offer a third party warranty. This is not the same as a certified mechanic rigorously inspecting the vehicle. Only specific mechanics can put a vehicle into the certified pre-owned program.
Who previously owned the vehicle?
Again, this only applies if you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle, but it is very important question to ask. This will give you an idea of how well the car was taken care of. If it was a traveling salesperson, then perhaps the high miles are all highway miles from being on the road. If a busy mom owned it, then it likely was put through a lot of stopping and starting from city driving all day. A vehicle owned by a mechanic was probably babied beyond belief. If the vehicle was purchased at an auction, then the dealer will really have no information on it. In these cases, a CarFax® report is vital. This report will tell you any occurrences that the vehicle has been subjected to. Keep in mind that minor body work like a bumper being replaced, very well could have just been from backing into a poll or sliding into the garage door on a patch of ice. You really only need to be concerned with larger accidents that required extensive repairs, especially if the airbag was deployed.
Is there a warranty?
Any new vehicle you purchase in Southern California will come with a manufacturer’s warranty. It should be noted that there is no better time than the present to purchase an extended warranty. The price of extended warranty is based on the vehicle age and mileage, so it will always be less expensive to buy today rather than tomorrow. Plus, it can usually be financed with the vehicle and barely make an impact on your monthly payment.
If you are purchasing a used vehicle, you need to know if it is certified, if there is a third-party warranty on it or if it is being sold as-is. Regardless what coverage is currently on the vehicle, the same rule applies from above; don’t put off buying an extended warranty.