But Matthew de Paula, writing for MSN Autos recently, offered a fresh take.
“Many shoppers blunder through the car-purchasing process and regret it later,” said an MSN headline. But de Paula’s approach is to help ensure that you won’t regret your purchase. It’s not as easy as 1-2-3, but the writer’s list of tips will help you get a satisfying result.
“Part of the problem is the sheer number of variables involved: the price, the options, the financing, the monthly payment, maybe a trade-in,” de Paula wrote. “You should methodically research and consider every conceivable scenario before setting foot on a dealer’s lot.”
Here is an abbreviated list of common car-buying mistakes de Paula heard from experts (and how to avoid them):
- Skipping the test drive – “Spend 30 minutes driving the car … taking it on roads like those you drive every day. Be sure to take competing models for a spin, too.”
- Focusing on the monthly payment – Break up the buying process: Part one is choosing the car; part two is settling on a price; part three is financing.
- Buying more car than you need – Be honest with yourself or you could end up buying an expensive, V8-powered pickup truck when all you need is a 4-cylinder commuter car.
- Saying up front that you want to pay cash – This could make a dealer less willing to negotiate, because it means the dealer won’t make money in the loan department.
- Being careless about financing – Get your credit score and find out from several banks or credit unions what kind of rates you can get on a car loan before you go to the dealer.
- Negotiating down from the sticker price – Research the prices of vehicles you’re considering. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the invoice price.
- Talking trade-in too early – Negotiate the trade-in only after you have settled on the price of the new car. Keep your and the dealer’s eye on the ball.
If you want more information on de Paula’s list, look here.