By: Michael Stevens - Staff Writer
Published: Jun 16, 2021

Car Buying Mistakes

Car Buying Mistakes. What car buying mistakes do consumers make? Below are 10 mistakes that car buyers often make that can quickly turn that initial excitement into buyer remorse-and how to avoid them.

1. Ignoring your needs. To paraphrase the immortal words of Mick Jagger, you can’t always get what you want, but at least in the realm of cars, you’re much better off with what you need.

2. Showing your hand.

3. Bad research and no research. Buying a car is not rocket science, but you could compare it to a high school term paper. To do it right, you’ve got some homework ahead of you.

4. Picking the most conveniently located dealership. No, they’re not all the same — not even for the same exact makes and models. Ask around — learn from friends’ experiences. Also, determine your seller’s C.S.I. (Customer Service Index), which is a ranking generally maintained by automakers for the dealerships that sell their vehicles.

5. Going by payment, rather than price. This is an easy mistake to make, since most of us budget, and therefore think, in terms of monthly figures rather than going by grand totals — and gee, paying only $400 per month sure sounds better than, say, $500, even if the car payments do drag on a bit longer with the former.

6. Prematurely talking trade-in. This is another easy trap to fall into because dealers love to play the trade-in game. Don’t let them muddy the waters: Negotiate a satisfactory price for the car — then bring up your trade-in.

7. Not shopping interest rates. Too many car buyers ignore the importance of shopping interest rates, apparently thinking that if the payment fits into their monthly budget okay, it must be all right. But unless you have excellent credit, you’re most likely better off getting your financing elsewhere. The little differences in the numbers can be huge.

8. One-stop shopping at the dealership. The big advantage to doing that is convenience — but in terms of financing, if you shop around via local banks, credit unions and other lenders, you may well get yourself a better deal.
Other things you should shop around for: various add-ons and accessories.

9. Going it alone when you can use a helping hand. If hassles give you headaches and negotiations make you nauseated, turn it over to a higher (horse)power. For example, the AAA Endorsed Auto Buying Program nets members special pricing through authorized dealers. To learn more, log onto; or become a member by calling 1-800-JOIN-AAA.

10. Thinking it’s over before it’s over: Or, in the case of car buying, it isn’t over ’til the business manager sings. You may think you bought your car once the sales manager shakes your hand and tells you what a great deal you got.

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