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Q And A

Q: I need a different vehicle! Do I guy a new or used vehicle?

A: By purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, you start saving from the beginning – starting with a lower purchase price! This savings continues during ownership by lower registration costs, decreased annual licensing fees, lower insurance costs, and lower repair bills. As a vehicle ages, the cost for parts & repairs decline. Repairs can be made by service providers other than new car franchise dealers without fear of voiding warranties.

And the benefits continue! Depreciation is slowed by letting that new car customer take the brunt of this expense. New vehicles can depreciate 30% and more in the first 2 years of use!

How about more vehicle for less money? Can’t afford the extras you really want on a new vehicle? Find that same desired vehicle, one or two years older, loaded with all your desired amenities and still spend less than new. Rather than that Chevrolet, opt for a Cadillac. Or instead of the Toyota, try a Lexus. Once you determine your budget for that vehicle, options are limitless when you choose pre-owned!

The biggest obstacle to pre-owned vehicle purchasing used to be Peace of Mind. Today’s vehicles are built better to last longer and have warranties to reflect this. Detailed vehicle histories can be verified by Auto Check or Car Fax to further put your mind at ease.

So if you’ve decided to purchase a pre-owned vehicle the next step could be to shop for a reputable local Dealer that offers years of experience, a consultative demeanor, provides resources for other services such as financing or warranties, and one that will be available whenever you may need their assistance or advice on any of your automotive needs.

Q: How do I use the internet to shop for my next vehicle?

A: The internet is a wonderful tool for researching your next vehicle purchase. It gives you the ability to search for multiple models and equipment levels from the convenience of your home or office. Manufacturer’s websites, popular vehicle websites, and vehicle history websites (Auto Check/Carfax) all contain archives of information on previous model years, vehicle specifications, colors, options, prices and reviews. You literally have the ability to shop nationwide for your ideal auto.

However, keep in mind that at some point you most likely will want to visit a Dealership and inspect and test drive the vehicle before finalizing your purchase. This step is critical as many times this is one of the most expensive purchases any individual might make. You should never rely solely on internet pictures and condition descriptions to determine your ultimate decision.

Be cautious using the internet. Fraud abounds regardless of how much you research. Cases are documented where people have traveled a great distance only to be disappointed in the overall condition and authenticity of their targeted purchase, going home empty handed. Given these current economic challenges, travel and personal time need to be factored into the expense of the entire purchase costs.

Our recommendation would be to do your research and model selection online. Then target a radius closest to home thus keeping your procurement expenses to a minimum as well as supporting the local economy. With the advent of the internet you can always find a lower price, but that does not mean you will find a better value. Beyond a certain point of price decrease there is a direct correlation to the quality and/or integrity of vehicle compromise.

Q: I’m a woman. How do I have a good car buying experience?

A: Women, simply stated, approach the process of a buying a vehicle differently than a Man! We women have been a challenge to most industries to determine the best ways to reach us and the best ways to win our business. Endless studies and analysis have surfaced over time surmising that we need to be taken very seriously and that we frankly make most buying decisions for ourselves and for our households.

Edmunds.com even suggests that we women tend to be more pragmatic and more economical in specifically our vehicle choices. Women come to any buying decision more informed while asking all the necessary and tough questions.

So how do we get taken seriously when buying a vehicle?

  1. Do Your Homework:
    • Decide what you want. Get online or read auto magazines and decide what vehicle you want. Then do comparison shopping.
    • Learn about your chosen vehicle(s). Read as much as you can to determine its pros/cons.
    • Select options you absolutely have to have and those that are optional.
  2. Let the salesperson know you mean business:
    • Discuss items most important to you and stay on point.
    • Take notes.
    • Test drive the vehicle.
    • Consider having the selected vehicle inspected by a mechanic.
  3. Negotiate price, not payments:
    • If you’re not comfortable negotiating, research how to do it!
    • If you feel patronized, find a different salesperson or even a different dealership!
Q: Is it okay to consider a preowned vehicle with higher miles?

A: Of course! Don’t shy away from preowned vehicles with high miles. They can be a source of incredibly great deals. Cars these days are far more reliable than older cars used to be and can run for 200,000+ miles or more! Just be careful and make sure you do your homework. Watch for signs of any major problems and make sure the vehicle was routinely cared for by the original owners. Consider these tips:

Service History: Some previous owners keep all their records. Many company or fleet vehicles have maintenance schedules that are strictly adhered to. Another source of service history could be the Auto Check or Carfax, however unless the previous owner(s) used a franchise service provider, those records may not comprehensive.

Interior/Exterior: By checking the interior and the exterior of the vehicle, this could be an indication of how the mechanical integrity has been maintained by the previous owner(s). We find that appearance & mechanical maintenance go hand in hand.

Test Drive: Always take the vehicle for a test drive before deciding to purchase it. You should verify how it handles, rides and accelerates at varying driving conditions. No experience? Refer to a trained technician.

Warranties: Is the vehicle still covered under a Manufacturer’s Warranty. If not and you can’t sleep at night, consider an Extended Warranty through a Dealer (we’ll discuss warranty options next month).

Q: What is GAP insurance and do I need it?

A: GAP stands for ‘Guaranteed Auto Protection’. It is a type of auto insurance that helps cover car owners in the event of a severe accident where a vehicle is ‘totaled’ or in the event of theft. GAP literally covers the gap between what you owe on the vehicle and its actual cash value as determined by the standard auto insurance policy.

Whether you purchase a new or used vehicle, depreciation affects the value. The rate of depreciation varies on different vehicles and is usually a result of supply and demand. If you paid cash for your vehicle, you don’t need GAP. If you borrowed money to purchase your vehicle, GAP could be a consideration. Your standard auto insurance policy is designed to pay the vehicle’s current cash value in the event of total loss – not the current loan balance.

Example: Your vehicle cost $15,000 and that’s how much you borrowed. An accident occurs and your insurance company determines a total loss. They then determine the actual cash value is $10,000, however your loan balance is $12,500. You still owe $2,500 and the lender would require full payoff. If you had purchased GAP that ‘imbalance’ would be covered.

So - you're a likely candidate for GAP if you:

  • Finance for 60 months or more
  • Put less than 20% down
  • Roll Negative equity from a previous vehicle
  • Buy a vehicle with high depreciation rates