A Smarter Approach to Car Buying

by Community Manager ‎02-11-2015 01:44 PM - edited ‎02-25-2015 09:23 AM (7,150 Views)

How to know what you should pay for your next car before you buy it.


With an average price of $27,000, a car is typically the second-most expensive purchase we make, after our homes. Seeking out unbiased information before you buy can help you spend your money wisely and get exactly what you want.


Vehicle Basics
Consumer websites and publications provide key information such as gas mileage, passenger seating, safety features, available options and more. You’ll want to know these details because they can affect what you pay at the dealer and over time.

One other consideration: knowing if the car you want is being redesigned or discontinued in the near future. For example, Toyota Camry buyers enjoyed deep discounts on 2014 models purchased just ahead of the fall release of a redesigned 2015 edition, so it pays to keep an eye on the car industry.


Actual Costs
Whether you’re buying a new or used vehicle, have an idea of a reasonable price to pay before visiting the dealer’s lot. That information is available through sources such as TrueCar, CARFAX and NADA Appraisal Guides.

If you’re buying a new car, research can reveal the invoice price of the car (what the dealer paid the distributor for it). Use that as the starting point for negotiation, not the sticker price (what the dealer wants you to pay). You also can uncover what others have paid for the same model locally, manufacturer rebates available and future resale value. Likewise, if you’re looking at a used vehicle, these services can help you discover recent resale prices for that car model in your area, as well as the repair history of a specific vehicle.


Professional Reviews
Always consider the sources of your information. Glossy sales brochures are  designed to show a vehicle in the best possible light. Much better: objective reviews available online or in print, from independent experts who road-test vehicles professionally.

These reviews provide a critical analysis of a vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses, performance, reliability, fuel economy and options.


Owner Feedback
See what average people have to say about the car you’re considering. An online search for the car’s make and model, plus the words “user” and “forum,” will find websites where people share their experiences with their cars. This is especially helpful if you’re thinking about a used car—owners can tell you what it’s like to drive it over time.

New or used, it’s important to drive a car yourself to draw your own conclusions before you buy. Arrange to take a thorough test drive that replicates your daily routine.


With the above information in hand, you can confidently buy a vehicle.


Visit AAA.com/AutoBuying for your car buying needs.


A version of this story appears in the March/April 2015 issue of AAA Living magazine.


Image credit/source: Dan Page/theispot.com


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