FFCYou Blog

Lessons in Car Buying - Part 1

Posted by Edward Sablan on Feb 21, 2017 3:00:00 PM

Recently my faithful old car started showing signs of its age by having multiple mechanical issues at the same time. With skyrocketing maintenance cost and the threat of more major repairs it was finally time to replace the old ride. Being a lifelong fan of automobiles, I had a good a starting point on my car buying journey. Even with my knowledge of cars there were still many lessons I picked up about the whole buying process.


There are many cost that go beyond the sticker price of a car to consider before entering a car dealership. I learned this the hard way after owning a used luxury car for many years. While I got an amazing deal on the car initially, I failed to factor in the long-term cost of owning the car. Everything from insurance to maintenance will vary from one make and model to another. For example, my old car required synthetic blend or full synthetic oil which was around $100 per oil change. In addition many garages would not work on my old car so finding a reliable mechanic became quite the task and often very expensive.
When factoring the total budget to own the car it is good to consider the cost of maintenance, fuel consumption, and insurance well before it is time to test drive. With a budget in mind it would not hurt to consider a few financing options and deciding if buying or leasing is best. Getting pre-approved for a auto loan at a low rate can help narrow down your car buying choices as well as better manage your price range. Also if you have a trade-in like I did see if the dealer will use it to mitigate some of the fees and taxes with the purchases. Now its time to choose the right model.

Choosing the Right Models

With my budget in mind I targeted a couple models that fit my required features list within limit of my finances. Making a list of key features is a good way to narrow down choices and help figure which models are in your budget. Examples of what you can ask to help create your list include:
  • What are the key features for your next car?
  • Is it worth it to spend extra money on such luxuries as navigation and leather interior.
  • What the primary use will be for the new car. Will it be something you only use to drive to work or do you have plans to drive across the country with it?
  • How long do you plan on owning it?
  • How is the weather where you will be driving?
Now this is just a brief list of things to consider as there are many more that can be added to the list. Keep in mind this list is something that is ultimately up to the buyer and thus subject to change from person to person.

Dealership - Where to go Shopping

Now it's time to decide where to go for your new (or used) car. I decided to only shop at dealerships that I had a good relationship with or that had a great reputation. Where you go is as huge a consideration as what you are going to buy. Buying from a reputable dealership can reduce the risk associated with the car buying process. I recommend trying out a few dealerships to get a feel for what each has to offer. My family (after dealing with countless other places in the past) forged a strong relationship with one dealership and have purchased from them for over 17 years. While you may not have a relationship like that consider looking into national dealers such as Enterprise Auto Sales and CarMax to start your own dealer list.

Finding the Right Fit like Goldilocks

After I picked the right dealership, I wanted to try the out the three cars that fit all my requirements. During this I felt a lot like Goldilocks. The first one was too small, the next one was uncomfortable, but the last one felt just right. This part of the process is going to be completely unique to the individual buyer. I do advise that this portion of the process can take some time so plan accordingly and know that you are in for the start of a long day.

Next week in Part 2, I'll talk about the closing process and if the extra warranties are really worth it.



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