Buying a Car - Part 2

As promised in my last post, I will now address the selection and purchase of a new (or used) car. I will assume that you have disposed of your previous car as discussed in Part 1. If you are considering a used car, the most important subject will be its condition and history. I plan to spend a large part of this blog on new cars as they are the most common type purchased.
The first decision will be which type of vehicle (sedan, wagon, pickup or SUV) one is considering purchasing. Secondly, which brand or brands are on your short list. Vehicles today are much more reliable than those produced in the past. Most, if properly cared for, will last 10 to 15 years and 150,000 miles or more. The decision as to the type of vehicle is really a personal choice. Sedan or SUV, as my college art teacher said about art, Da you like it?” If you plan to keep the vehicle for a long period of time, type is unimportant. SUVs are the style in vogue right now. 5 or 10 years down the road, who knows?

If reliability is paramount in your choice of vehicle, I would again suggest Consumer Reports®. They do an annual report of all brands by model year concerning reliability. This report is based on hundreds of thousands of lengthy evaluations by owners. I have a library of several years of these reports and would be glad to share them with any resident seriously considering a vehicle purchase. My phone number is 8902.

New cars all have a window sticker which provides a Suggested Retail Price. Almost all brands and models can be purchased for significantly lower amount than suggested on the sticker. There are many websites that will provide actual sales price paid by purchasers (cars.com, autotrader.com and many more). Negotiating this price with the dealer is about as enjoyable as a root canal. Many organizations, such as Costco, have discounted new car purchase plans for their members. These vary greatly in the value of the discount. I would suggest negotiating a price personally before trying the buying service.

Concerning used cars, history is important! Thankfully, history of individual automobiles listing date, location and mileage of ownership changes and vehicle service are available on the internet. More importantly, any accident repair is also reported. Carfax.com and AutoFax.com are two sources. They cost $25 or so but are worth the cost.  All you need is the serial number of the vehicle.  A car that had been sold and serviced in Houston Texas until sold at auction several months ago would not be on my short list!

Finally, the latest marketing ploy by dealerships is the addition of a Processing Fee. Simply put, this is additional charge (profit) added to the cost of the vehicle after price negotiations. A car price of $29,800 is really $30,300 if their processing Fee is $500. This is simply an effort to extract additional profit from the customer. I would tell the salesman that the price you are offering to pay is the legal price Virginia DMV requires them to use in computing the Sales and Use tax (4.15%). Another alternative is to simply add the posted processing fee to the price the salesman quotes for the desired car and negotiate from this amount. Their goal is to add this fee to whatever price you agree to pay. By adding it in from the start of negotiations, their marketing ploy is fully disclosed.

Good luck,    Charlie