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A Beginner’s Guide to Car-Buying

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Just got your licence? Parent of a new driver? Read on for tips on how to land the right vehicle for the right price.

  1. BE PRACTICAL.

    Sleek design and a ‘wicked’ sound system are nice but first figure out what you need – cargo space, all-wheel drive, power vs fuel efficiency and so on. Do this before you start shopping, set a budget and stick to it. Be sure to include all the costs in your budget like fuel, insurance, maintenance and repairs.

  2.  KNOW YOUR OPTIONS.

    Make a list of car options – used/new, model/brands, size and price ranges within your budget and how to negotiate a good price.

  3. GET AN INSPECTION.

    If you are buying a used car, get an experienced care inspector from a good car garage/repair service & have them inspect the car. If they identify required repairs, consider asking the seller to deduct those costs or split the difference.

  4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO BARGAIN.

    New cars dealers normally allow a 15 – 20% mark up price, which allows them half of the mark up profits. Used car sellers tend to set the price high to allow room for negotiation. Always make an offer that’s 10-20% lower than the price you’re willing to pay, so that you have room to negotiate.

  5. DO A PHYSICAL CHECK.

    Particularly for used cars: look for rust and signs of excess wear, signs of collisions, mismatched paint, slamming doors, gaps in metal seams among other things. Ask about maintenance history and alterations.

  6. TAKE A 30 MINUTES TEST DRIVE.

    Get a feel for how the car performs in different scenarios: parallel parking, highway motoring, feel for any pulling to one side – an indication on misaligned wheels, dashboard warning signs. After the drive, examine for leaks, or strange sounds while the engine is still running.

  7. SCRUTINIZE THE CONTRACT.

    If you are buying from a dealership, make sure everything you negotiated with the sales person is in writing (double check) any extra costs, such as taxes or freight charges. Remember, a signed sales offer is a legal document to buy, so don’t put pen on paper unless you are ready to drive off.

  8. DON’T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY.

    If you think the seller is putting you under high-pressure or using underhanded tactics like excessive stalling, outlandish promises, refusing to allow a test drive or inspection, take a hike! You will find the right car somewhere else.

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