from Goss’ Garage by Pat Goss

Can you believe it? Is it possible? Can it really be time to shop for back to school cars? Yeah it is and although that sounds like a straightforward task it’s one that often degrades into a series of disappointing, expensive, misadventures. There are questions, research, negotiations and a big money transfer not to mention finding the right car, setting up a budget, finding safe payment options, insurance, maintenance issues, the pre-purchase check, warranties and much more. What follows may seem elementary but I’m routinely stunned by the number of people who don’t do any basics. For them it’s, see the car, fall in love with the car, sign the papers and hope!

Never fall in love with a car because it’s car-lust not brainpower that keeps the repo-man fat and happy. Repo lots are brimming with shattered dreams of well-intentioned folk who either didn’t understand or ignored the fundamentals. Their love affair with mass produced, plastic, glass, steel and rubber leaves them buried in debt, their credit in shambles and without transportation. But avoiding their mistakes requires a visit to the nightmare that is the Internet for information. Some great information and countless thieves ready to steal your information and money so only use trusted sites.

A smart decision requires several steps that you might not consider. First, is a budget to determine the total monthly amount you can afford for transportation. Then, select the make, model and type of car which is mostly a subjective, not a numbers process. If you’re buying a used car, it’s important to understand that condition and service history are far, far more important than the trunk badge. A highly rated but poorly maintained or abused car isn’t nearly as desirable as a lesser rated model that’s in great condition with impeccable credentials.

After selecting the car you have to decide if you can actually afford to own it. Remember, affording to buy and affording to own are vastly different. To know if you can afford to own a car requires more than price and payments. First get the cost for full coverage insurance and get an extended warranty quote from v6.carchex.local. Next, estimate how many miles you’ll drive monthly then get the car’s mileage rating at www.fueleconomy.gov. Now, divide the number of miles per month by eighty percent of the EPA city mileage rating times the price per gallon and you have a realistic estimate of monthly fuel costs. Finally add $100.00 per month for maintenance and repairs. The total of those costs subtracted from your budget determines if you can afford to own that car. Also, ideally you should have some budget overage because … inevitably … stuff happens!

But wait, there’s more. If the math works and you can afford the car have a qualified technician check it from bumper to bumper. Also buy a vehicle history report from www.carfax.com to help avoid buying a flood, totaled, badly wrecked, or odometer tampered car.

Some extraordinarily worthwhile tips: Never fall in love with a specific car, because love trumps common sense every time. Buying from a licensed dealer is much less risky than buying from someone’s driveway. Don’t buy a car you can’t pay off in forty-eight months or less. Never sign a document with blanks. All agreements must be in writing and management approved. Verbal agreements and promises are worthless. If there are existing problems the dealer should give you a signed document stating what they’ll do and when. Never buy a car in the rain; they’re all beautiful when they’re wet. Absolutely never exchange funds until the car has passed every test. And don’t forget, everything including the price, interest rate, dealer extended warranty and financing program, is negotiable.

Published in by CARCHEX on November 13, 2014