Mistakes To Avoid When Car Shopping

If you don’t know when you’re doing when you’re out shopping for a car, you can easily fall victim to savvy salesmen willing to take you for a ride. But if you know what to look out for and act decisively, the experience doesn’t have to be awful.

Money Under 30 tells you to be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

* Focusing solely on price. It’s important that you get something you can afford, but a cheap deal won’t do you much good if the car doesn’t match your needs. If you sacrifice attributes you hold dear just to save a few bucks, you probably won’t be satisfied with the purchase.

* Ignoring financing terms. Car finance guys like to keep you focused on the monthly payment, dismissing the overall cost of the vehicle and the interest rate. The best way to avoid difficult number crunching is to go into a dealership with pre-approved financing in place.

* Underestimating the total cost of the vehicle. The price you agree on is only the beginning. Gas, insurance and maintenance vary from vehicle to vehicle, possibly making what seemed like a good deal to start with turn sour over the long haul.

5 Big Car Buying Mistakes [Money Under 30]

Previously: Consumer Reports: 10 Car Shopping Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

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  1. Mr_D says:

    The biggest mistake I’ve made is getting emotionally invested. It’s just a car.

    • clippy2.0 says:

      Lies. Most of us spend more time in our cars than in our significant others. Make sure it’s something you can actually love and enjoy, despite its quirks, or it will drive you crazy. No reason not to get a car you can actually be emotionally attached to. That’s like buying a house just for the numbers, and not liking it

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      “Oliver!” – Richard Hammond

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      Interesting. For me, cars and motorcycles are the about the only purchases I allow myself to make based more on emotional bond than pure logic (aside from budget constraints)

      Though I agree, getting too emotionally invested BEFORE you’ve signed the papers is just asking for trouble.

    • bethshanin says:

      I’m the opposite. I pick with my heart.

      I’ve had “it’s just a car” cars, but those were temporary appliances to get me to work so I can afford a new love.

    • bluline says:

      I once walked away over a disagreement on a $300 sound system upgrade on a new Camry. I went across town to another Toyota dealer and they didn’t bat an eye over it. When the original dealer called to say they would throw in the upgrade I happily told them I’d already purchased the same car from their competitor. Bottom line: walk if it doesn’t feel right. There are plenty of dealers out there.

    • alana0j says:

      So you didn’t see a recent episode of My Strange Addiction then…Google the guy in a relationship with his car…then find him and try telling him it’s “just a car”…

  2. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “And according to the USDOT‚Äôs 2009 National Highway Travel Study, the average length of car ownership is 59 months‚Äîjust shy of five years. So just remember that the next time you think you‚Äôll keep your next one for 10.”

    Wow, the average person is a little insane.

    • alexwade says:

      I bought my 2004 350z roadster on December 31, 2004. (I was going to buy it in early December, but the dealership wouldn’t budge on the price, so I waited them out and bought the car at $500 over invoice.) I keep it up and it still runs good. It needs a new paint job, but other than that, I plan to keep the car for many more years. If I need to get a new car, then I will replace it with another Z convertible.

      But every year, a car dealership sends me a letter saying “we want to buy your car”. Some people fall for that trick and will find themselves with another car payment. I just ignore them, because I love my Z.

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        Same story with my 2006 Corvette, only it just got a paint job.

        • do-it-myself says:

          Do you and the Z owner not wax your cars?! My last car was 11 years old when I got rid of it and the paint still sparkled like new, with the exception of a few light scratches and dings! My current has paint chipping on the spoiler which is making me a bit irritated seeing as I wax it every 6 months, but I’ve only had the car for a year and a half (it’s a 2007, got it used in late 2010). I blame the previous ower for wax neglect.

      • xipander says:

        +1 on the Z. I have a 2011 370z and it’s awesome.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty crazy how short that is but it does sound about right, if not longer than I expected.

      I tend to keep cars for about 10 – 15 years or 200,000-ish miles. It’s not paying for repairs that I mind, it’s when I can no longer trust the car to be reliable that I get rid of it.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      Cars tend not to last as long in northern climates. The road salt and winter weather cause them to rust out and wear out faster than in areas that don’t see much snow.

      I’m sure that’s partly to blame for the seemingly low average length of ownership.

      • BorkBorkBork says:

        Yeah, my parents can get about 10 years out of their cars in NH. After that…there’s a good chance it won’t pass inspection or important parts just start breaking.

        • cara says:

          Agreed with that. I have an 11 year old XTerra and I live in MA, and I just had the muffler fall out due to extreme rust from the road conditions.

          As much as I love the snow, I’m thanking someone up there for the light winter. I do love my car and I need it to live for at least 2 more years.

      • DGC says:

        Rust really isn’t the problem it was 20+ years ago. Cars are made with galvanized steel and the finishes are much better than they were. My current car is a 2002 Dodge Stratus and there isn’t a bit of rust on it, and I’ve lived in Michigan and Wisconsin the whole time.

    • hobochangbar says:

      A co-worker explained it to me that he was always making payments so he might as well have a new car. I suggested he live a year without a car note & see if he feels the same way. As much as I like a new car I HATE car payments. Our current vehicles are 7 & 12 years old, both bought new and paid off in
      Oh, and I also am not too fond of dealers and even less so of dealer’s service so I’d almost rather save money on a used, out of warranty car & let my own mechanic work on it.

    • Thorzdad says:

      I’ve never kept a car for less than ten years. We buy them, and drive them until they drop. We have over 380,000 on a 2001 Nissan right now.

  3. samonela says:

    1. Do your research! Know what you want and what you want to pay before ever setting foot on the showroom floor.

    2. ALWAYS talk about the bottom line, out the door price (including taxes, licensing fees, etc).

    3. If you plan to trade in your old car, DON’T MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT IT until you and the sales person have already agreed on the bottom line, out the door price (see above). That way they can’t just adjust fees or prices elsewhere to negate what they are willing to give you for your trade in. NOTE: you will almost NEVER get your money’s worth compared to selling private party, however it can also be quite a hassle sometimes selling your car…so pick your poison.

    4. If you can get a better rate from your bank or CU, go that route, get approved, get a check in an amount “not to exceed” and take it with you. Chat up the seller and come to an agreed upon bottom line, out the door price (see above), and then present them with the check.

    The name of the game is sweeping the legs out from under the games that sellers use. As the buyer, know that you ALWAYS have to power to just walk away.

    • meske says:

      I use the “all in deal” method. I really don’t care what you give me for my trade. I know what it’s worth, so I can estimate what the deal should be based on the existing incentives, interest rate, invoice cost, etc.

      I always go in at a relatively unrealistic number, and see how close they can get to that with all the cards on the table. If they meet the need, they get the sale. Otherwise, out the door.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        I was thinking of doing this as well. I already planned to do OTD price, but the whole reason I am buying a car is to get rid of a car I don’t have faith in as far as long term reliability. I think I’ll take my price, “hoped for” trade price, apply tax to the remainder and make that my OTD price.

        I think the “hiding the trade” technique can just piss off a salesman and sales manager, who will proceed to low ball the hell out of you on your trade if you have already worked them down to a bare bones deal on the new car. I think lumping it all in might speed things up. They can call the money trade-in, discount, whatever. I just want to cut a check for $XXXXX at the end of the day and get handed the keys.

        • meske says:

          Case in point… I had a car that was realistically worth ~$5K for a trade (was an old car). One used car place I went to had a car listed ~28K, and my OTD price I originally set was $12K. The salesperson claimed he would give me $12K for my car! So obviously the markup on the car I was looking at was ridiculous and he was just trying to make it work to get as close to my OTD number as possible.

          Unfortunately, the car was still a year older than I wanted, and didn’t have a CPO warranty, so the deal didn’t work. But the next dealership I went to somehow ended up valuing the trade ~7500, dropping the “new” car’s price down, and including everything in for what I actually expected to pay to begin with (which of course was over my above OTD number, but still within my “realistic” range).

    • bluline says:

      Re. #3 and the hassle of a private sale…I guess it depends on the vehicle, its age, mileage, condition, etc. A couple of years ago I posted a good used car ad on Craigslist at 7:00 in the evening and sold the car at 9:00 a.m. the next day. Couldn’t have been easier.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        I just worry that I will sell my car, and write “AS-IS”, “NO WARRANTY” all over every document and plaster it on the windshield and then when the alternator goes out a month later, I get some disgruntled idiot harassing me for $300. I’m no mechanic, I don’t know if some part is destined to fail.

    • Cacao says:

      I got a price on the car, went to my CU, withdrew that amount and got a cashier’s check. Bought the car.

      For some reason, the title said my CU owned the car, not me. Did the dealership assume I got a loan in that amount? Is a personal cashier’s check indistinguishable from a loan check?

      I tried to fix it, never got anywhere, let it go. The DMV sent me an amended title (with my name on it) few years later. I wonder what kind of problems I could have gotten into in the meanwhile??

  4. Flik says:

    Just as bad is focusing on the low, low, monthly payments. A certain idiot I know (former brother-in-law) got a car a few years back for “Only $199 a month!” Yeah, it was a 120-month contract. The car was dead in 3 years, and he still had 7 years to pay on it. Sucker!

    My personal rule is to never step foot in a dealership without doing your research first. It’s too easy to get seduced by the sexiness of a new car, and the instant the dealer sees the lust in your eye, you’re screwed. You have to be willing to walk away, no matter how much you want that car. If you hold the power to get up and leave, you have more control over the game.

    • Snaptastic says:

      Some salesman asked my brother, “If I can give you this car for $199/month, would you buy it today?”

      My brother: “…and how long will that take me to pay off?”

      Salesman: “I don’t know….”

      • BurtReynolds says:

        In the short time I sold cars, I was amazed at the number of people who simply didn’t care what the loan term was. We would sit down, they would say the payment needs to be $300 and they “might” have $1k to put down. I’d come back with a 72 month loan (back when they were easier to do) at 8% that made their payment $305. Of course we also only took $500 off the car and bumped that interest rate from 7%. “This is as close as we could get to $300″, and they sign on the dotted line.

        • bluline says:

          My BIL is in the car business and he talks all the time about customers who are interested only in the “muntlies,” as they pronounce it.

  5. Costner says:

    This is all great advice, but I’d really like it if Phil would write up his own ideas. It is ok to get ideas from elsewhere, but how about a Consumerist specific top 10 list of ideas on a subject rather than continually linking to other sources?

    Seems to me they could build up a nice inventory of user guides which would bring more people to the site as they were linked to from elsewhere.

  6. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Mistake #1: Buying a new car when a used (or stolen, if you like) car will do just fine

    Mistake #2: After buying a car, forgetting to disable the GPS tracker so you can make drug runs and body dumps in peace

    Mistake #3: The Pontiac Aztec

  7. Dallas_shopper says:

    When I go car shopping, I already have the car picked out and I know exactly how much I’m willing to pay for it since I research invoice prices. Basically I just walk in, say “Here’s how much I’m willing to pay for car X, will you sell it to me?” If they say “No” I just leave. They’re often willing to negotiate, but if they pull out salesman nonsense or start talking monthly payments, I just get up and walk.

    I’ve never NOT paid the price I wanted for a car. SOMEONE will sell it to you for that price. But you have to be willing to get up and walk away.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I also agree with the other points regarding securing your own financing and not even mentioning your trade-in until you get them to agree to your bottom-line price. That’s what I do too.

    • Nunov Yerbizness says:

      So true. I did this with the MINI dealerships. I calculated a very reasonable cash offer; I didn’t lowball them by any means. I said, “This is my offer, and I’m paying cash. You could have this money in your hand in five minutes, and I could have my keys.” They explained how paying the sticker price would make me a cooler person. I said, “Gee, it doesn’t sound like you guys really want to sell a car today,” and walked. A few days later, I bought a one-year-old MINI from a co-worker, exact color combo that I wanted. Under $20K.

      Now I wonder why anybody would buy a new car, really. You can find somebody who’s selling practically new ones at work, in the neighborhood, on eBay, on Craigslist.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        Normally I’d agree with you on new vs used but around here lately, it’s sometimes the new car that’s the better deal. Not always. But sometimes. In my case in 2007, the 2007 model was a better deal (bottom line, CHEAPER) than the 2006 and 2005 models they had on the used lot next door. So I bought a new one.

        It’ll be paid off in July…can’t wait for that extra $244 a month in my pocket. :-D

      • hobochangbar says:

        It depends on a few things. When shopping for a kid hauler mini-van a few years back stability control (A safety feature CR highly reccomended) was a rather new feature still. Getting a van with all the safety features I wanted limited me to the current & previous model years only. A 1 or 2 year old version was too close in price to not get new in that case.

      • hammond egger says:

        I work in a dealership and I laugh every time someone uses “I’ll be paying cash” like it’s a bargaining chip. Newsflash, we don’t want you to pay cash, we want you to finance the vehicle through us. We make more money.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          I financed my last car through the dealer even though I already had my own financing lined up. Reason was I got $3500 off the price of the car for doing so. There was no penalty for early payment, so I got my $3500 off then switched the financing to my own bank.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        I’ve been looking at Toyota Highlanders and Honda Pilots, and the 1-2 year old models with 10-20k miles on them are about the same price as a new one. I don’t get it either. List price anyway, who knows what you could negotiate them down to. Maybe I’ll see one of these days.

  8. dmuth says:

    This is probably the best video I’ve ever seen on how to buy a car:

    http://youtu.be/sH651baH7-c

  9. FreeMarketFan says:

    When I bought my last car (6 or 7 months ago) I did a lot of research on it. I read up on-line, did price comparisons , found dealer incentives and so-on. So I knew how much the dealer paid (roughly) , how much the guy made on the sell (incentives + profit) and how much I should be paying ( +/- 500)

    I didn’t NEED a new car, but I wanted one. I made it very clear that I didn’t need this car and I could wait them out a lot longer than they could wait me out – plus there are many dealerships in the area.

    I brought in some paper-work where I broke down the true cost of the car and said what I would pay for it. They came back with a higher offer, and I said that wasn’t acceptable and started walking towards the door. The guy said he’d have to “talk to his manager” and 15 minutes later they agreed on the price/financing terms/etc.

    Don’t let some pushy salesman push you around on a car. They need your sale more than you need that new car.

  10. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Luckily I’ve been working with a guy on my last 2 cars and am prepared to go to him again for a 3rd in another couple of months. Here’s what I can put down, this is what I want my monthly payment to be, here’s how long I want the loan for, here’s what attributes I want. If you can’t help me, the other 6 dealerships down and across the street can.

    My biggest advice is STAND YOUR GROUND. Bring out your inner salesman and don’t be afraid to toss out the line “don’t bulls*t a bullsh*tter, alright?”

    • BurtReynolds says:

      You’d be better served to figure out what a fair price is (Try invoice + a couple hundred…they should rarely refuse that), then figure out your own payment based on a stab at the interest rate. Use that as your barometer and work off out the door price. When you let them hide behind a monthly payment, you can really leave money on the table without realizing it.

  11. deathbecomesme says:

    Don’t look at the price tag. Just get the prettiest one. You will be happier in the long run! /s

  12. somedaysomehow says:

    When people say they got a car for “$500 over invoice,” does that mean out the door, usually? When you negotiate the cost of a car what all is included in that? Tax, title, tags?

    • Kaleey says:

      Those things CAN be included in that reference, but usually are not. However, there is nothing that says you can’t walk in and say “I want this car for $y, tax, title, fees, and out the door.” If they say “bottom line is $z”, make sure that you know what $z includes.

      My fiancee irritates me by doing this litle number: he says I bought my 2010 Ford Focus S (standard shift) for 10,100. I didn’t – it was 17,400, but an A plan and an end of year discount got it to 13,700, and I paid 3600 in cash as a down payment and taxes, etc. The LOAN was for 10,100. Don’t fall into that trap – get a true bottom line cost so you can figure your loan amount (if your finanacing the purchase).

    • Shorebreak says:

      “Invoice” is probably one of the most over used terms when it comes to getting a good deal on a car purchase. The customer probably will never know exactly what the dealer paid for the vehicle and he won’t tell you either. There are lots of other factors that come into play including holdbacks (money allocated back to the dealer upon sale), discounts or incentives. These make the actual invoice cost lower.

  13. Nobby says:

    I used the “reverse auction” method last time I bought a car. After researching and deciding which car, color, and trim level I wanted. I sent ‘request for quotes” to all nine Honda dealers within a 150 mile radius of my home. My RFQ stated that I was ready to buy and the lowest bidder to give me a signed, written offer by X date would get my business. The car had to be in stock and ready for delivery if I accepted the offer. And I told them my max price (which was based on recent prices paid), right up front. I also told them I would reveal the low price to all on Y date and give them 1 additional day to make a second offer.

    Seven dealers initially responded. Two offers were roughly $900 below my max but not the colors I wanted. Two offers were right at or slightly below my max for exact specs in my RFQ. Three offers were $500-750 below max but were a lower trim level. I revealed all prices to all bidders. One of the two low offerors re-bid for their same initial price but with 2 years of XM instead of 3 months. They got my business and I was happy because I paid a almost a thousand bucks below the “market value” at the time. And the car’s color grew on me and now I quite like it. XM is cool too.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      I like this idea.

    • Nobby says:

      All SEVEN Honda dealers, not nine.

    • pinkbunnyslippers says:

      Do you work in government procurement, by chance? :)

      • Nobby says:

        Lemme ask you this first….are you a gubmint contractor?

      • BurtReynolds says:

        If he did, it would have taken a year and a half to complete the procurement. He also probably would have left out a crucial requirement for the product.

    • nbs2 says:

      I did something similar. The only difference was that I didn’t give them a day to adjust their bids. I used their bids to then negotiate directly, bouncing the offer from one dealer off of others. In the end, I paid less than my min (it was about $120 above truecar’s dealer cost, including holdback, I wanted to pay about $200 over).

  14. rpm773 says:

    The Saab dealership in my town has a big banner saying it’s still open and that the new 9-5 is there.

    That whole what-have-you seems like a mistake worth avoiding.

  15. kobresia says:

    The financing terms are a big thing to pay attention to, it’s best to walk if you can’t get very close to the premium rate. Used car financing often brings the total price very close to the cost of financing the total purchase price of a new car at the dealer’s best new-car financing rate.

    But the biggest profit center for the dealer are the other things that buyers get put on the spot for and bamboozled into during their time with the fast-talking finance guy. Great, you got your new car for $100 over dealer invoice! If you take all the cosmetic upgrades & add-ons, gap insurance, extended 3rd-party warranty, and such, you’re adding thousands of dollars of dealer profit to the deal.

    I’d take a little exception to the point the article is trying to make about how people spend time. People spend almost no time at all on the financing of the car, the financing dept are the fastest-talking people in the stealership. They spend most of those hours looking at cars, trying to decide which model and options to get. When people are getting pre-approved for a mortgage, they’re spending a few hours comparing financing options at their bank and maybe a few 3rd parties, but then they are probably going to spend dozens of hours driving around and touring various properties.

    But back on the time spend looking at cars and car financing thing, in many cases, the monthly payment on a car is going to be around half of the amount paid towards a mortgage or rent. That’s a substantial monthly expense spread out over a few years, it pays to take the time to make sure it isn’t more than one can afford. Put another way, most people will spend on the order of oh, let’s say 5 hours’ worth of their weekly pay on that car payment over the course of 5 years. It’s well worth taking 10 hours to just think that decision through.

  16. chemmy says:

    Read everything and get it in writing. When I got my car, they verbally told me interest on the financing would be 5.5%. When it came time to sign the papers, they had it listed at 11.5%, They insisted it was a typo and they really meant 5.5%. I made them draw up new papers and kept them 3.5 hours past closing to nail everything down IN WRITING. I ended up with 4.5% interest and had to go back in to sign more papers but it was fine with me. Also negotiated them down to $1500 under market prices for the car since I knew it was a repo and it had been sitting on their lot for months, unwanted (it was a Nissan at a Kia dealer). I was happy – I wanted the Nissan and the Nissan dealership next door wouldn’t give me the time of day since I wasn’t interested in a brand new car. $250 a month for 48 months.

    They also tried the “we can get you in a BRAND NEW car for only $149 a month!!!”…. I looked at it… Manual locks, manual windows, no A/C (in Georgia???), radio only…. $149 a month for 120 months…. plus a down payment of $3995.

  17. humphrmi says:

    When you sit down with the salesman, if he pulls out a piece of paper with a cross-like mark that separates the paper into four equal parts, tell him to put his four square away. Each square is supposed to be a scratch area where he scribbles trade value, purchase price, down payment, and monthly payment. Each of these areas gives them someplace to tug back when you push on something else. Only talk price. Ideally have external financing pre-approved, which pushes out two of the squares and gives the salesman less leverage. Get the best price, and then demand Kelly Blue Book value for your trade after you’ve settled on price.

  18. PLATTWORX says:

    1. I always research the vehicle I want online from several sources and print it all out. I then know what the best price should be for that car.

    2. I try and work with the internet sales manager (most dealers have one now) so my first round of discussions is done via e-mail. They can share what they have in stock, I can compare to what my sources tell me, etc.

    3. I send an e-mail saying I’d like to come down, but am interested in looking at X car and would be willing to discuss a price of $X. Normally, no argument.

    4. It takes me one visit. I look at the car, I tell them what I am willing to pay. Since I have done homework and am not making an insane offer we usually come to terms quickly and I sign the paperwork same visit.

    4. I already have approved financing and am familar with car loan rates. They always offer financing. I tell them the rate and term I am preapproved for. If they can beat it, they can have the financing. If not, I will be using the one I am approved for. Half the dealers I have bought from beat my rate and I let them do the financing, half couldn’t and we used mine. Fair enough.

    I agree it’s just a car. I am more than willing to go elsewhere.

    • humphrmi says:

      You’ve been lucky, at least as far as financing. I walked into a dealer once with pre-approved financing, so we talked about the car I wanted, and its price. After that was done, the dealership offered me 0% financing, but suddenly the car I wanted mysteriously disappeared and in its place, a higher trim vehicle appeared.

      Needless to say, I walked away.

    • hammond egger says:

      As someone that works in the internet department at a dealership, I say bravo to everything you just said. People like yourself are a pleasure to work with…but also few and far between. :)

  19. Costner says:

    The last new car I bought was from a low price dealer. They don’t haggle – period. They look at the trade and offer you a price… and that price is the same no matter what car you are looking at. In fact, they will even pay you that price to buy your car straight out from you even if you can’t find a car on their lot that you like.

    The car before that I basically played dealerships against one another. I was buyng a VW so I contacted the dealer in my city and two others in cities near me. I told all three exactly what I was doing – I listed the options I wanted, I specified the color, I listed the trim level and I even made them include any documentation fees and dealer prep fees that they might think they could spring on me after the fact.

    Within a few hours the dealer in my city gave me a number which was basically right at MSRP plus they expected a doc fee on top of that. The second dealer came back at around $1000 less, and the third dealer came back at $1400 less. So basicically for a few hours of my time to drive to a nearby city, I saved $1400. That was a no brainer to me.

    The best part? As I was signing the paperwork on my new car, the dealer in my city called me and asked what I thought about their deal. I explained I saved $1400 from driving over to their competitor and was in the process of signing the paperwork. I bet that stung a little… but they are well known for not being price competitive and for taking advantage of people because they are the only VW dealer in the area – so I was sure to let them know they lost my business.

  20. Bagumpity says:

    Trusting a friend who has a relationship with the dealer was my BIG mistake. I have (had) a good friend who sometimes did repair work for the dealership, so I asked him about the model I was thinking of purchasing. He immediately gave me a positive impression about it. It was reliable, easy to repair, a good investment, etc. and then offered to call the dealer to get them to knock a little extra off the sticker price for me. Stupid me, I let my greed for a “secret deal” sucker me into going along with it.

    When I got to the dealership, they stuck to the promotional price like glue, and then they pulled me aside and said they were thinking of dropping my friend as a business partner- but this sale might turn them around. And then my “friend” pulled me aside and said he was worried that if I didn’t make a buy that day, his reputation with the dealership would be shot and he would lose all their repair work.

    So I decided to take the promotional price- it was worth it to me if it meant my good friend would continue to have work sent his way. I figure I paid roughly $800 more than I could have paid. I had all the research in hand, comparison prices from the tri-state area, info on competitive models, etc.. I KNEW what I was supposed to pay for the car, and I would have walked away from the deal if it hadn’t been for my friend.

    A few months later, I found out that my friend was paid a commission for every customer he brought to the dealership and that the “I’ll lose business if you don’t buy this car” ploy was something that he used often. Which is why he’s now an ex-friend and why this same story is plastered all over every site that lets you rate repair shops.

  21. Buckus says:

    For the financing deal, if you have a smartphone you can always download a loan calculator.

  22. Jimmy60 says:

    The biggest mistake people make when buying a car is they buy the car they want, rather than the car they need.

    Frequently, what they want, costs far more to buy, own and operate, than what they need.

    • malraux says:

      I would say that its more that people buy the car that they want/need rather than the car that meets 95-99% of what they need. My wife and I have a small car and a midsized car. With a kid, it would be handy to have a minivan for longer trips around the country, but its a lot cheaper to rent a minivan for a week than to drive one every day. Don’t buy a vehicle for a 1-2 times a year event, remember that you can rent a uhaul truck/van for not much, and harbor freight sells a foldable utility trailer that can make a regular car capable of hauling sheets of plywood, etc.

  23. teamplur says:

    Is that one of the dealerships in National City? (Southern San Diego County)
    Sure looks familiar.

  24. bhr says:

    God damn Phil, next time try an advice post with actual advice…

  25. Rick Sphinx says:

    NO Lease, NO Extendended Warranty(this depends). Never lease, it’s the worst way. Get a loan at a Credit Union, then go buy your car. Get extened warrany, only if you can’t afford a major repair, and only get an extended warranty from the vehicle Manufacturer, never a third party, most third party warranty’s are not worth the paper they are written on. Even on a used car, buying a used Toyota from a Toyota Dealership, get an extended warranty from Toyota. Best to buy a used 2 year old car, most of the value drops in the first couple years.

  26. Torchwood says:

    What wrong with the cars from Hertz car sales? They are in very good shape and have good pricing for vehicles with 25,000 miles on them.

    How about going through Costco or Sam’s Club and dealing with fleet sales?

    The only thing that I don’t like about my current car is that I cannot hook up my MP3 player directly to the car audio, but instead, have to use a FM Modulator.

    • hammond egger says:

      Have an aftermarket stereo installed.

    • bitplayer says:

      I tried that and it was really scam. Dealers just spammed me instead of giving me the price requested.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      For $150 you can probably get a head unit to solve that problem. My 12 year old Civic has a USB port and and aux input now for its stereo. Love being able to load 16GB of music on a $12 thumb drive and leave the iPod Touch at home.

  27. veggie says:

    The biggest mistake: get a loan.

    or worse: gap insurance.

    or worse: buy extended warranties.

    Many consumer throw away their retirement because they pay up to $500 per month for something that only has to move you from A to B in a safe and dry manner.