Read this before hitting new-car market
In recent months, I’ve been chatting with many friends and family members who have purchased new vehicles. Their experiences are generally positive, though some have expressed frustration and stress at certain parts of the process. Typically, this stems from unexpected consumption of their time and difficulty deciding on which vehicle, options and add-ons are most worth their consideration.
Keep the following in mind to help reduce stress, wasted time and confusion as you shop for a new ride.
Know what you want:
Hitting dealer lots with a clear idea of what sort of vehicle you want is ideal to save time and energy. Arrive with a clear picture of the vehicle, traits and features you want, ideally written down or printed on a list. This list is important: Bring it with you and insist on seeing a model that delivers on all listed items.
A little research ahead of time, perhaps online, via manufacturer websites, or by visiting dealer lots after hours for a look around may also be useful to guide you towards the right model to testdrive. Arriving at the dealership with a clear idea of what you’re after is a great way to save time and avoid frustration.
If you’ll be devoting part of your day to checking out and test-driving vehicles, consider calling the dealer ahead of time to book an appointment. Phone or email a sales representative, explain which model(s) you’re most interested in and have them confirm that they can ready a test drive of a specific unit that best meets your needs, based on your list from the last step. In many cases, you’ll be in and out of the dealership faster if you set your test drive up ahead of time.
Visit a dealer for a test drive when you’ve got time to spend an hour or more driving and assessing the vehicle you’re considering. A good test drive should take half an hour or more
and, if you’re strongly considering the model in question, you may want to test-drive it more than once. Allow yourself enough time to properly shop and test drive for the best results. Remember: this is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.
When test-driving, a 10-minute spin in the driver’s seat down the street isn’t good enough. Think of your lifestyle, the things and people that you’ll bring for a ride, and how you need the vehicle to work for the most frequent tasks. This may mean bringing that dog kennel or bicycle along to make sure it fits in the cargo area, bringing the family along to confirm that everyone fits comfortably, or bringing your favourite CD to make sure the stereo is up to snuff. Often, extra sets of eyes can reveal something, positive or negative, that you might miss during the test drive, so bring a friend, spouse, or family member along if possible. Be sure to try the rear seats, fully inspect the cargo area, and to spend a few minutes on the roughest available road to assess ride quality, as a bare minimum.
Cars are competitive:
Automakers are well aware of their competition and their customers and this means that, by and large, all vehicles in a given competitive set are very close to one another in terms of quality, feature content, safety equipment, and more. Obviously, there are outliers but, in general, in the mainstream market, no single vehicle in a given genre stands head and shoulders above (or below) its competitors. There’s no secret “correct answer” on which vehicle is “best” in a given segment, and arguably, no “best” car in a given category, only cars that do a better (or worse) job of meeting your specific needs. Worry less about making the “right” or “wrong” choice, and more about finding the vehicle that best meets your exact needs.
Keys stay in your pocket:
If you drive to the dealer, keep your keys in your pocket. I’ve been hearing, more and more frequently, from shoppers (including my own mother) about sales reps who hold onto the customer’s current car keys, which often wind up in their pocket, or desk drawer. This is a pressure tactic designed to make shoppers feel captive, and it upsets shoppers. There’s no reason to hand your car keys over to a sales representative, so don’t.
Should you buy the $1,500 extended warranty coverage? Maybe, but you could also stick that $1,500 in the bank toward future repairs if they’re required, so that you still have it, whether you need extended-warranty related repairs, or not. Consider these two options after considering what the extended warranty covers (and doesn’t).
Also, note that no extra-cost treatments, services or procedures (rust modules, paint coatings, fabric protectors, add-on accessories) are required to maintain any part of the vehicle’s warranty as outlined on the manufacturer website, or owner’s manual.