The Fast Lane to Car Buying
After nearly 10 years of loyal service, Tom Ferriter’s 1995 Ford Supercab suddenly died on a hot July day in Athens, GA. The mechanics told Tom it wasn’t worth saving. The tragedy left him with some unexpected vacation days (good) and plenty of grim musings on the future (bad). “I thought I’d have to work from home, filling out [paid] surveys for focus groups,” says Tom.
Tom was unaware of his credit score and short on confidence, but he knew he needed to buy a new car. He was understandably cautious. “I was really worried if I went to a dealership, they’d figure out my situation really easily and take advantage of me,” he says.
Tom may remind you of, well, you. And, that’s okay. As a car buyer, you have a right to be afraid of the process. Researching your options, securing financing, negotiating with experts and determining long-term costs are complicated tasks. They take time and patience. And, in the car-buying world, slow and steady usually wins the race.
“You shouldn’t go out on a Saturday morning and try to buy a car by Saturday night,” says Brian Chee, chief automotive analyst at CarsDirect.com, an online car-buying service. “Making sure you don’t rush into a purchase is important.”
Unfortunately, when buying a car, most buyers forget their concerns when they step onto a car lot. A 2007 Consumer Reports survey found that 96% of car buyers believed they got a “fair deal,” while a whopping 66% rated their deals, “good” or better. Are these figures proof of consumer success? Not according to other data in the same survey that suggests better knowledge of basic car-buying techniques would have gotten most consumers better deals.
Sales representatives and car dealers are very gifted at making consumers think they’ve gotten a fair shake, when in reality, they haven’t. If you take the time now to educate yourself about buying a new car, you can purchase a car you’ll be happy with and not get raked over the financial coals in the process.