Buying a new car today is different than just five years ago – now the consumer has a tremendous advantage when it comes to knowing about the vehicle before they make a decision to purchase.
Statistics indicate that a potential car buyer will spend hours on the computer shopping for information before making a selection. So much information is available on the internet that it just makes sense to arm yourself with information.
The traditional way was to drive around the area car lots and see what was there. If you got out to have a look, chances are a well-meaning salesperson would greet you and start showing you vehicles. There was a chance that you might not know all of the options available, or some of the feedback from existing owners that might have swayed your decision.
The obvious place to start your research online is at the manufacturer’s website.
Many of these sites allow you to “build your own” version of a vehicle online. Once you select a model, you can select a color and usually see how it looks on the screen. Then you can see all of the exterior and interior options. As you select an option, you get to see how adding (or taking away an option) affects the overall list price. Many of these manufacturer websites will also give you an idea of the number of similarly equipped vehicles that are available at your area dealers.
The next stop in your online research might be to find consumer reviews of the vehicle. There is a distinction . . . a magazine, such as Car and Driver, Road and Track or AutoWeek, will review the vehicle from the professional critic’s perspective. A critic may look at a car for its muscle-power and performance, while you might be planning to use it to take kids to school and get groceries from the store every week.
If you seek out consumer reviews, you will find reports from actual owners. Sometimes these reports can have a huge bearing on your choice. Maybe the feature that stimulates your interest in a vehicle isn’t all that important in the day-to-day use of the vehicle. Another angle to consider is the day-to-day operating expense of a vehicle. Be sure to review the fuel economy of the vehicle, but see if owners are having specific repair and upkeep issues.
Another area to review is the potential resale value. Sometimes, if a vehicle has been in a market for a few years or more, you can check to see how much a similarly-equipped five-year-old version of a vehicle you are interested in is rated for its value. A good source to check for resale value is www.kbb.com for Kelley Blue Book values. Or go to AutoTrader.com and check to see what the vehicle is selling for on area used car lots. Avoid the idea of looking at the retail price of a used vehicle as its “resale value”. Every car dealer has to price a vehicle to be competitive in the market, but they also have to cover the cost of reconditioning, advertising, commissions and more. Trade-in values listed in Kelley Blue Book are a good indicator of a vehicle’s “resale value”.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping for a new vehicle is what rebates are available. There also might be financing incentives. New cars are not like other retail goods. They don’t have a lot of markup.
Finally, as a customer, you bring certain variables to the negotiating table, such as your existing vehicle’s trade-in value (versus what you may still owe on it). Your credit worthiness determines the way your vehicle will be financed. Down payment affects the financing as well. Sometimes the “best deal” isn’t the best price but it might be how the vehicle is financed. A lower interest rate can save you hundreds on the life of a vehicle loan.
So take the time in researching your vehicle purchase before you get to the car lot and it will probably help “put you in the driver’s seat” a whole lot easier!
Source: Bob Hurley Ford
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