Ask the Expert, Part 2: More Common Car Buying Questions
Like we said in Part 1, you can never ask too many questions when it comes to buying a car. Here is some more advice from Tracy, our Centralized Lending Manager.
What's the best time of year to buy a car?
Tracy: If you're thinking of purchasing from a car dealership, most of them run promotions and sales multiple times a year. Once you review your budget and have a short list of vehicles that suit your needs, you may want to plan your purchase around those sales and promotional events. Here are the best times of year to get better deals:
- National holidays like President's Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day
- Towards the end of each month
- End-of-year sales events like Toyotathon and HondaDays
- When a new model year for the vehicle you want is introduced (if you're willing to purchase the previous model year)
What should I do research on before I buy a car?
- You should research the different models that meet your needs. Once you have narrowed down the model vehicle you are interested in, you should check the different trim levels that are offered, and decide which is the right fit for you. I would recommend looking at online reviews; you can find a lot of reviews just by searching the year, make, and model.
- Pay particular attention to reliability ratings and look for common problems. You should also look up the car’s value; there are many websites that offer free value quotes such as JD Power and Kelley Blue Book.
- Check with the dealership’s service department for average maintenance cost on a vehicle. Luxury vehicles tend to have much higher maintenance and repair costs. Consider purchasing a warranty product to avoid potential costly repairs down the road.
- Get an insurance quote on the type of vehicle that you are shopping for, so you don’t get any surprises from a premium increase.
- Contact your local tax office to get a quote on the property tax for the vehicle. Getting these quotes will help you with budgeting for the potential increased expenses of owning a new car.
Should I buy my car from a dealership, individual, or online?
Tracy: AllSouth can accommodate all three purchasing avenues.* They all have their advantages:
- When purchasing from a dealership, you can get more information on the vehicle, and most dealerships offer a free Carfax report to review the vehicle history.
- When purchasing from an individual, you typically are able to negotiate a lower price, but this transaction can be riskier. If purchasing from an individual, always ensure the individual selling the vehicle is the legal owner, and it is best to set up a meeting in a public place such as a financial institution or a police station, to avoid inherent dangers of meeting a stranger. You may consider meeting at a local car dealership to have the service department do an inspection on the vehicle prior to committing to purchasing. There is typically a diagnostic fee for the inspection, but this can assure you that there are not any underlying major issues with the vehicle. It is also a good idea to verify the seller either has the title in their possession, or, if financed, verify the payoff of current lien holder. If the latter is the case, you'll want to try to meet at the financial institution to deliver the payoff, to ensure the lien is satisfied.
- Purchasing online from companies like Carvana or Vroom has become increasingly popular, and is very convenient, but does have its risks. Although the companies tend to do a good job of taking adequate photos and have detailed descriptions, you do not get to test drive the vehicle until it is delivered. You do, however, have the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the vehicle upon delivery, and if it's not as advertised, you have the option to refuse the delivery and cancel the sale.
What advice do you have for someone considering buying a car for a teen?
Tracy: When purchasing for a teenager, safety and reliability should top the list of important factors to consider. All the research mentioned above would be relevant to this type of purchase as well.
How do I know if I'm getting a good deal on a car?
Tracy: What's considered a "good deal" is mostly in the eye of the buyer; for example, if you find a late-model vehicle with low mileage and good service records based on a Carfax report, then the vehicle could hold more value. We can help by providing a quote on what the market value is stated on a particular vehicle, so that you can make an informed decision.
Need more advice?
Check out Part 1 of this blog series to get more answers from Tracy.
* Loan rates and terms based on creditworthiness and qualifying purchases. Rates are subject to change without notice.