Texas Car Buying Tips
Buying a Car in Texas?
With the Multitude of Make, Model and Option Choices Available today…
…buying an auto is enough to make your head spin. Obviously your emotions–your feelings about driving and your preference for certain auto makes or models–will play a role in the decision process. But, the smartest place to start is by thinking about you and your needs. To be sure you make the smartest choice, you’ll need to do some homework.
Know Your Car Style
Don’t necessarily think auto model, think auto use. If you know the answers to the following questions, you can help yourself determine which auto best fits you.
1. What are the primary and secondary uses of the auto?
2. What will be in the auto most of the time?
3. How often will the auto be used?
4. Where will you be driving?
5. What features do you consider most important?
6. What are you willing to give up?
The Education Process
Once you have a clean picture of what you need, you may be tempted just to head to a dealership. Think again. Investigating your choices ahead of time will save time and aggravation–and maybe even money.
Visit the library or bookstore to do some basic research. Becoming familiar with current prices and features can be especially helpful if you haven’t purchased a car in a few years.
Make a list of all the important features and options you personally want or need in a car. Then write down all the models that have those features. You may find a few more cars on the list than you expected, giving you a bigger pool from which to choose. Or you may find that only a few autos fit your needs, which will save you time when you do head to the dealership.
New or used, buy or lease, you need to know all the costs involved in getting your next car. Even if an auto is a great deal and the financing options unbeatable, you may find that makng those monthly payments puts an impossible strain on your budget.
If you are not sure how much you can afford, talk to a financial advisor or get pre-approval on an auto loan from a bank. Professional advice in the area of financing will let you know ahead of time how much you can really afford.
Once you set your price range, stick to it. The trick is getting the car you need, for the price you can afford.
Don’t forget that owning an auto costs more than the monthly payments. Gas, maintenance, taxes and insurance should all be figured into the cost of ownership. Ask your insurance agent for an estimate of auto insurance costs.
You’d Better Shop Around
Compare sticker prices with the estimates from your research. Review the standard and optional features listed. When you are ready, get brochures, take test drives and ask the salesperson for information. Ask about everything from warranties to service department hours and loaner policies.
Next, it’s time to negotiate a deal. The difference between a dealer’s invoice(estimates are available from automotive magazines and auto pricing services) and the price listed on the sticker is your bargaining range. The more information you have on exactly what the dealer pays for the standard package and for each option, the stronger your negotiating position. It also helps to know whether the manufacturer is offering any cash rebate offers or factory-to-dealer incentives.
The popularity and availability of a particular car will also factor in how willing the seller is to negotiate. And keep in mind that when you shop may make a difference in the final price you pay. The end of the model year (September and October) favors consumers because that’s when dealers are reducing inventory to make room for next year’s models. December, when more folks are worried about holiday shopping than car shopping, is another good time. Then end of the month, when salespeople are trying to fill their quotas, is also prime deal-making time.
Please Lease Me!
Leasing is an increasinly popular way to get a new auto.
1. A down payment may not be required.
2. Monthly payments are generally lower.
3. Enjoy a new car more often.
4. Conveniently turn in the auto at the end of the lease than negotiating a trade-in value or sale.
1. You get no trade-in or resale value at the end of the lease.
2. Steep charges to break the lease early.
3. May be charged for excess mileage or excessive wear and tear.
4. If you choose to purchase the auto at the end of the lease, you may end up paying more than if you purchased the car in the first place.
Second Hand Rose
Most of what you’ve read so far has been directed to the new auto buyer. Buying used is very similar to buying new. You need to assess your needs, estimate what you can spend and do your homework.
You have one additional variable to consider–wear and tear. If the car hasn’t been in an accident, has been well-maintained and runs well, you may have yourself a first-class car at a discount price. However, if you think you’ve found a good one, have your mechanic check it our before buying.
To figure out the going price for a used car, check your local classified ads and consult one of the used car price guides available at the library, such as the Kelly Blue Book Used Car Price Manuel (commonly called the Kelly Blue Book), which lists estimated values for used cars based on what car dealers are paying for various makes and models. Keep in mind that price guides aren’t the final word on a car’s fair value and that factors such as mileage can change a car’s value considerably.
For More Information/Reference Materials
1. Buying A Car Guide: Car Buying Secrets, Tips and Help Choosing Right
2. Drive a Bargain: Sell Your Car for More, Buy Your New Car for Less: A Practical Guide for Irish Motorists
3. Car Buyer’s and Leaser’s Negotiating Bible, Third Edition (Car Buyer’s & Leaser’s Negotiating Bible)
4. In The Driver’s Seat: The New Car Buyer’s Negotiating Bible
5. The Consumer Bible: 1001 Ways to Shop Smart