HOW TO BUY A USED VEHICLE
Shopping for a new vehicle can be a stressful time. Not only do you have to decide from hundreds of different makes and models, but once you do, you then need to go through the purchase process, which can be frustrating.
We will take you through the buying process and give you some tips that will tilt the odds in your favour, hopefully making the entire experience a bit less stressful.
Let’s start with preparation. Preparation is key. Knowing what you need vs. what you want is especially important and can help save you a lot down the road.
When is the best time to buy? When you don’t really need to! Desperation leads to quick decisions you might regret down the road. When you have time to think about the decision, you’re less likely to experience buyer’s remorse. If you put yourself in a situation where you need a car today, you will have a lot less flexibility when it comes to selection and pricing, because you’re forced to take whatever the dealer you choose has that day.
What’s your budget? Determining your budget is essential to making sure you’re comfortable down the road. Are you more concerned about the total amount you’re spending or the monthly payments on your new vehicle? Once you know that, it’s much easier to set realistic expectations for what you might be driving home.
What are your choices? Do you have a family that you’ll be using this vehicle to transport them in? Then a 2-door convertible probably isn’t something you should look at, even though it’s so tempting! Do you travel? Do you have pets? Do you need 4x4/AWD? Is safety a concern? Ask yourself these questions, and it will help you eliminate a lot of vehicles that aren’t really suitable for you:
- What is most important to you? Fuel mileage? Safety? Style? Performance? Size?
- Is it for work or personal?
- What do you like/dislike about your current vehicle?
- Try and narrow it down – Are you looking for a Car/Truck/Van/SUV?
- Is colour important? (Different colours can cost more money)
- Are premium options important? Are they a need or a want? (Navigation/Leather/Moonroof/Power Seats)
- Are you financing or paying cash? (If you are financing, we recommend doing a credit application in order to find out what you can be approved for before having your heart set on something the lenders won’t approve you for.)
New or Used? Buying a brand-new vehicle is a wonderful feeling, but is brand new really worth it? On average, a new vehicle loses 30% of its value when it leaves the lot for the first time, and another 10% before the first year of ownership is complete. They do come standard with manufacturer warranty, and you have the peace of mind knowing no one else has owned it other than you, but is that really worth a difference of several thousand dollars to you? Did you know that a Manufacturer warranty transfers through ownership, and many, many used cars will still have plenty of warranty left on them? Combine that added peace of mind with the huge savings difference, and you might consider that a used vehicle is worth looking at as an option, even if you had been planning to purchase new.
Will a used vehicle be reliable? In Saskatchewan, all vehicles that come from outside of the province need to pass the Saskatchewan Government Safety Inspection, so you can rest assured it will be safe and reliable. Additionally, any trustworthy used car dealerships will include some sort of quality guarantee, whether it be a time frame or a kilometre limit. Make sure you ask about the dealers policy when speaking to them about a possible purchase.
Once you’ve found the vehicle you like, it’s time to go over numbers. Traditionally, the next step would be negotiating on price, however many dealers are steering away from this model now. In the past, the only way to find out how much a car would cost you would be to go into the dealer and negotiate. Nowadays, with the prominence of the internet, dealers are forced to be extremely competitive in their pricing in order to get you to come visit them in person instead of their competitor, meaning that there is little to no “wiggle room” for negotiating. Don’t let this get you down, you’re still getting a great deal, but the market has done the negotiating in advance for you meaning you’re starting your negotiation at a lower price. Some dealers also refuse to haggle at all, so don’t be surprised if you see that “the price is the price”, because that is the way the market is trending.
It’s important to remember that no two vehicles are the same though, and even though two vehicles might look similar in year, kilometres and price, there are many factors which can make one vehicle better than the other such as condition and options.
Once you’ve decided that the vehicle you came to look at is the one for you, and have spoke to the Sales team and came to an agreement on price, the final step is to consider additional protection for your purchase:
Some of the options are:
- Extended Warranty – This will add a time frame and/or kilometre range to your vehicles existing warranty, or will just give you warranty the vehicle didn’t previously have. There are many different types available from very basic to covering every component, as well as different levels of deductible should you need to use it.
- GAP Insurance – This will protect you in the event your vehicle is a total loss. For instance if you have a vehicle that you owe $40000, and your insurance is only willing to pay $30000 due to depreciation on the vehicle, the GAP Insurance will pay off the difference of that $10000, meaning you don’t have to add that amount onto your next loan, keeping your payments low and not having to pay interest on that amount either.
- Disability – In the event you become disabled, these plans can help pay for some or all of your payments for the duration of your loan or your disability.
- Critical Illness – In the event you get a critical illness during the term of your loan, this type of insurance will pay your auto loan while you’re treating your illness, or should you pass away, pay the loan out in full.
- Loss of Job – In the event you become laid off from your work, this coverage will make your payments until you regain your employment.
Remember, you’re not shopping for a deal, you’re shopping for a vehicle. If price is the only thing you’re concerned about, there is a good chance you will end up unhappy because you’ve focused so hard on getting the best price, you’ve neglected to realize the reason this one was the cheapest. Whether it’s due to it being in worse condition, having a less than desirable accident history, a dealer that cuts corners on reconditioning, or many other factors, sometimes cheapest isn’t best, especially when you’re looking at one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make.
Slow down, take your time, and remember that dealers are here to work with you, not against you! You’re not going into battle with an adversary, you’re building a new relationship that doesn’t end when you sign the dotted line. You will be returning for maintenance, if you experience any issues, and hopefully a new car down the road if you were treated right, so don’t look at the dealer as your enemy, but a new friend.
Buying a new vehicle is as stressful as you want it to be, but can also be stress-free if you are prepared. It’s entirely up to you!