Know Your Rights

Car Buying Guide - New vs. Used

This time of year, the car sales pitches hit high tide.  Piggy _bankLabor Day sales and "summer close out sales " start to pop up at every dealership.  They are trying to sell off last years models before the new ones take over popularity, and they are  trying to target those who need cars for the new school year- such as college kids or new drivers.  Regardless of what you are buying or what you need, here are some tips to consider. 

New vs. Used:
There are good deals to be made on new cars because in August, many new car models come out.  The old ones that have not been sold need to be moved.  But there are also always deals to be made on used cars because that is the type of merchandise dealers do not want to keep around too long.  So the determination must be made as to what is the best deal.  Here are a few factors that should play a role in the decision:

  • New cars come with a manufacturer's bumper to bumper warranty.  Most used cars are sold "as-is" meaning you take the risk of there being problems with the car.  While extended warranties on used cars are an option, they are often not worth the expense as there are always coverage issues.  
  • New cars don't have anybody's bad history.  You are the first owner and those first miles are all yours.  With a used car, there is a history that you may not know about.  More research is required.
  • Negotiating a price on a new car may be more tedious.  The dealers all have a certain amount of room to work with, but there are bottom lines to the prices.  With used cars, there is much more leeway to negotiate a better price.  
  • Overall, you are really combating with Price v. Quality.  You pay more for a new car, but you also have a better quality product.

If You Buy New:
If you are a new car buyer, here are some tips that you should be aware of before you buy:

  • Length and duration of warranty.  The warranty of a new car is its best feature.  The manufacturer warrants a vehicle free from defect, and will repair or replace any defective part free of charge.  But for how long?  Many cars are warranted for 3 years or 36,000 miles - whichever comes first.  A longer warranty than that can be very useful .  So be mindful of how much you drive. 
  • Gas Mileage and the Environment:  Gas prices have soared over the last few years  In the summertime, they are typically the highest.  This has brought upon more popularity to electric vehicles and hybrids.  If you are in a pure gas vehicle, mileage per gallon is critical.  Surely you do not want to find yourself at the pump every week.  
  • History of Problems with that Vehicle:  Some vehicles have a bad history.  Certain types of makes and models have issues that continue to pop up on them that manufacturers fail to correct.  Spend some time on the internet looking for chat rooms, complaint boards (see the Better Business Bureau), and even pending class action lawsuits.  This research may tell you about something in a car, such as a recurring problem, that may steer you away from getting that vehicle.
  • Reputation for Service:  Often a new car will need some sort of service on it.  All cars need to be maintained to some degree.  The dealership and manufacturer team together to provide you the service you need on the car.  Poor service quality can do more than just sour your feelings toward the repair facility, it can effect your entire ownership experience.  Pleasant, efficient and effective service makes the new car buying experience better.

If You Buy Used:
If you are in the used car market, here are some important tips you should know:

  • Ask Questions:  Make the sales person tell you as much as they can about the history of the car.  Ask him or her how they got that answer.  Did they get this car as a trade-in, or was it purchased at an auction?    This can factor into how much they know.  
  • Order a Carfax: is a website that maintains a database of vehicle histories.  You can plug in the VIN of the vehicle and get a detailed history of the vehicle.  It can tell you if the vehicle was previously a rent-a-car, a lemon, or in an accident.  You can even see how the mileage increments increased.  Many dealers will offer you a carfax report.  If they do not, ask for one.  If they refuse, a red flag should go up in your mind.  Write the VIN down, go home and get your own report.  
  • Get the Repair History:  This is not always possible, but if your used car is being sold by a manufacture authorized dealer of that type of car (i.e. you are buying a used Chevy from a Chevy dealer) then you can ask for a "warranty history report."  The dealer should be able to show you all the repairs made to the vehicle under warranty.  
  • Note the Mileage:  It goes without saying that the older a car gets, the more apt it is to break down.  Cars put on an average of just under 15,000 miles per hear.  Note the year of the care and the number of miles on it.  If the car averages more than 15,000 miles per year, you are getting a vehicle that has been used top greater excess than most. 
  • Bring a Mechanic:   We often hear the story of how the car drove just fine at the test drive, and then within a few days, the car breaks down.  It's just amazing how the car will perform just perfectly when it needs to be bought, then breaks down once it is purchased.  Like a puppy that wants to get picked out of the litter.  Covert or lurking problems can be detected by the properly trained eye.  Bring a mechanic along if you know one. 
    If your new car purchase turns out to be a lemon, or the used car you purchase turns out to be something that was not as represented to you, Contact Us for a free case review. 
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