By Alex Perdikis
Did you know that a lot of people buy the wrong car? In fact, nearly a quarter of new car owners wish they had made a different choice. Not buying the right vehicle is a costly mistake. Trading your car in two-years or sooner means you’ll owe more on your car loan than your vehicle is worth. And that means you’ll pay a big financial penalty.
So, what can you do to make sure you get it right the first time? Follow these tips to buy the car you need now without suffering a financial setback.
1. Examine your life and future.
Think about your life now and what you expect in the next five years. Is there a new baby in your future? Do you plan to retire? Are you getting married? Do you plan to move? How about a change in finances? The key to buying the right car now and keeping your financial balance is purchasing the car that fits your life now as well as the next five years.
2. Do your research.
It’s easier now than ever to find expert and consumer reviews of any make and model you’re thinking of buying.
“Read the reviews carefully. Determine if issues raised will impact your happiness with your purchase.” — Alex Perdikis
Don’t remain loyal to a specific brand without checking out the competition.
3. Make your test drive a real test.
If possible, ask for an extended test drive. Drive in town, on the highway and in stop and go traffic if you can. You need to get a real feel for how the car performs.
Check the comfort level. Can you get in and out easily? If you have children, will they be able to get in and out? How well does an infant car seat fit? Can Grandma get in easily when you take her for doctor’s appointments? Are the seats comfortable enough for those long drives you have to make for work?
4. Calculate your finances before you buy.
A new car isn’t just about the purchase price. You also have to buy gas, pay for registration and licensing, maintain the vehicle and keep money aside for possible repairs. That great monthly loan price is not the only cost when you buy a new car.
5. Try a lease first.
If you aren’t sure what type of vehicle is right for you now and in the next five years, try a short-term lease instead. Or, purchase a low-cost used car for now.
Sure, the sales price is important. But, the smartest way to shop for a new car is to find the car that fits your life now and well into the future. Holding on to your car for several years protects you from negative equity as well as the car’s inevitable depreciated value. You won’t suffer buyer’s remorse if you take the time to figure out which vehicle is the right one before you buy.
Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.