The power of preparation when buying a car


According to recent estimates, when looking to buy a new or used car customers will on average take a car on a road test for less than 10 minutes. This when you consider the vast sums of money potentially involved is quite staggering. Every day at anytime there will be thousands of cars being advertised which have been owned for less than 3 months, because the buyers of them couldn’t get on with it or didn’t like it enough to sell it or trade it in losing £000s in the process. During the time I have been involved in buying, selling and marketing cars of all shapes and sizes it has amazed me how many cars that come back with a sorry story behind it such as.

‘‘Couldn’t afford it, got pressured into it and regretted it when I got home”

‘I bought it on impulse but it’s totally impractical”

‘I didn’t discuss with my partner before buying”

‘I only took it around the block and didn’t realise how slow it was’

‘It is uncomfortable and I didn’t realise at the time’

‘It didn’t have the spec I wanted but It didn’t occur to me at the time”

And so on.

Now if these were just isolated instances and not really representative it would be fine, but the reality is that making a bad decision when buying a car is costing consumers millions of Pounds. If you take an example which we have given many times, a brand new Golf r32 which costs list around £25,000 (the car is now been replaced by a new version) but when the customer drove away seemingly happy it was a shock to the dealer when 1 week later the chap turned up saying he hated it, he had been impetuous and wanted to get back to driving a BMW which he always had done. Now, even in a buoyant used car market with stock scarce and given that he may have got a great deal, he will be lucky to get £20,000 back so £5,000 has just gone up in smoke and this is on a car which will hold its value better than most. If you multiply this kind of common example around the country it won’t take long to see that acting hastily could be financially disastrous.

So what’s the answer? It is not really rocket science and although a little more time consuming well worth it for the grief it may save. The internet is now the must do thing before even attempting to go into a showroom. Just because your friend at work has one and it looks great do not be seduced by the looks until you have established that it’s right for you.

Preparation, make a list of the “must haves” such as 5 doors, diesel, a/c, leather etc.

Set a budget and if it depends on what you will get for your present car, or is cash plus car plus monthly payment use the internet to give you some rough ball park figures. It’s better to be in the ball park than dreaming about a car that is out of your reach.

Discuss the purchase with anyone else who may drive the car, or whose opinion you value.
Check out the expert opinion, again it’s only an opinion but these guys spend all their time checking out cars, so must know something.

Once you have narrowed it down take the time to drive each car for as long as you can and in exactly the conditions which the car will mostly be used in. Dealers generally aren’t too fond of the extended test drive but given enough notice most will comply.

Do not compromise on the “must haves” they will only grate on you over time if they are not included (it’s only a simple thing but I, for instance, cannot own a car without a centre arm rest, it’s like a comfort blanket!)

Compare prices and models and always take the time to think about which is which and what most impressed you.

Make sure the rest of the family will at least accept it; the grief you will get every time they are forced to go out in it will soon start to wear you down.

Ensure that the car will suit your needs for at least 18 months, and then at least you have had good use out of it if you are to lose money.

Whilst it’s important for a salesperson to demonstrate what the car is about, it is more important for you to find out what you need to know before buying.

If the car is perfect but the price isn’t it’s don’t be afraid to roll your sleeves up and start negotiating..

Lastly it’s an old cliché but very relevant in car buying ‘failing to prepare means preparing to fail” and of course, lose money!


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