5 Mistakes to Avoid

Stephanie Barnhart

Stephanie Barnhart is currently the Automotive Research Analyst for Comcast Spotlight. Comcast purchased www.vehix.com - an automotive inventory/resource website, at the beginning of 2008.

People in general, not just women, tend to make critical mistakes when purchasing a car that can end up costing up to thousands of dollars! But, the great thing is, everything you need to educate yourself is right at your fingertips! That's right; we're here to let you in a few industry secrets:

5 most Common Mistakes Committed
when Purchasing a Vehicle

Car dealer are operating a business, and just like any business, it is their job is to make money. That doesn't mean they are all out to get you, most are very willing to work with you the best they can. It's your job to go ready and willing to negotiate.
  1. Never go into a dealership with a maximum amount monthly payment.
    Salesmen just wait to pounce on this one. When you say you can afford anything up to, let's say, $400 a month, you give the dealer room to stretch and manipulate the profit. They will do almost anything next to selling their first born (they are salesmen remember)? to make that number work for you, whether it means adding more monthly payments or finding special financing

    What you should say is, what will be my "money difference?" Or what will be my "net figure?" (if you don't have a trade). This will give you a solid price, which you can then calculate yourself to see if you can afford it. www.vehix.com ?and other automotive resource websites provide you with financing calculators. You can plug that price in to calculate the monthly payment yourself. Go ahead. Watch how much even you can manipulate that price to get it where you want it.
  2. Never Depend on a Dealer to Educate you, Educate yourself!
    There are numerous automotive resource websites out there that can provide you with tons of information to learn everything and anything about the car of your dreams. It will even tell you if it comes "standard" with that cute little vanity mirror that every woman driver needs, or so they say...

    Compare the vehicle you like to others in its class. Such as a Honda Accord and a Toyota Camry. Side-by-side you can compare safety ratings, gas mileage, paint colors, stereos, tv's, running boards, chrome gas tank covers, anything your little heart desires. This way, you will also know what does come standard on your vehicle, so they can't charge you for all those "extras" you don't need or want.

    Kelley Blue Book is also what dealers use to determine the value of your trade in. If you go to kbb.com, you too can have a pretty accurate estimate of what your current vehicle is worth, so they can't low-ball you.

    Also check with the manufacturer's to see what special incentives they are running. With the industry struggling currently, you can find deals even up to $10,000 off! These are usually also most common towards the end of the year (starting around September) when they need to make room for the new 2009 inventory. That means now, ladies!
  3. Never ever ever tell a dealer your credit is bad.
    Everyone thinks that if their credit is bad they have to admit it right off the bat or bad karma will come their way. Not true. Once you admit this to a dealer you are at their mercy. Let them run the credit check first. If it comes back bad, so be it, but you might be surprised.
  4. Don't get sucked into an extended warranty.
    When you buy a brand new vehicle, they come with exceptional warranties, usually around 100,000 miles or 5 ?6 years, which ever comes first. This means you don't need to "extend" or add any more warranty to your vehicle. It's brand new! Make sure to ask exactly what the manufacturer warranty does entail before you buy your vehicle as well.
  5. Never show weakness! Be confident!
    This is your car! You're the one who is going to be driving it for the next few years, so tell them exactly what you want. Don't let me try and turn it into, "well you need this," or "you would really love having this feature." Like I mentioned, do your research. Come prepared. Most dealerships post their inventory online; it is 2008, so once you narrow it down to a specific vehicle, search for which dealers that currently have that car on their lot. Then look at the price they post online. Print it in and bring it with you. This way they can't haggle you. Also, don't be fooled. If the dealer doesn't have your car, he can "buy" it from another local dealership for you. Never lose the upper hand!

    Ask questions. If you don't understand why there's a difference between the MSRP and the final mark-up, ask. And, step back, take a deep breath and take your time! The world won't end if you don't buy your car today. Even if the salesman says the car might not be there tomorrow, this is just a ploy. This is the vehicle you will be driving every day so make sure it's just want you were looking for and can afford. Even if you're car is gone the next day, they can track down another one locally and bring it to that dealership location for you. That's their job, let them work for you!

    And most importantly, check your references. www.women-drivers.com provides you with insightful first-hand buying experiences at certified Women-Drivers Friendly™ dealers. Use it to your benefit. Ask your friends, family and relatives to refer a dealership they had a good experience with. If you hear the service is bad at a local restaurant you don't go there hoping your experience will be different!

    These steps should help to make your car buying experience more enjoyable....because it should be! We are women! Shopping is what we do best! Who ever started the rumor that car buying should be stressful should be hunted down and caned.

    Here are some common "dealer terms" to familiarize yourself with:

    MSRP - thie is the sticker price. There is a law that it has to be posted in the car window, so if you don't see it, request it. This is the price that the manufacturer charges for the vehicle. The dealership cannot increase it, only add "extra features", such as a sunroof, or a 6-CD changer.

    APR - Annual Percentage Rate. This is how much you are charged extra each month for the loan on your car. The better your credit, the lower it usually is, unless you find a incentive that offers "0% APR." Take it!

    Money Difference - This is the total amount of your new vehicle, minus the trade in value, minus the incentives. This number doesn't change, so once you know it, you can calculate your own payments.

    Happy Shopping!