Considering almost everyone needs a car these days, you would think the whole process of buying one (and then maintenance) wouldn’t be so complicated. But buying and owning a car is just one big headache — especially if you’re 100% clueless as to how they work.
If you’re not in the know when it comes to cars, you stick out like a sore thumb. That means it’s extremely easy to get taken advantage of throughout the entire process. Salesmen will take advantage of your cluelessness and charge you more, mechanics will tell say you need an engine cleaning during your routine oil change (when you don’t), insurance companies will be unfair, and people who want to buy a vehicle you’re selling may even take advantage as well.
All of the things mentioned above actually have happened to me. I was young, naive, and an easy target. Now if I have to do anything car related, I always bring someone with me who’s more knowledgeable. But sometimes that isn’t doable.
Below are a few tips that will help guide your through the entire process — from buying and selling to maintenance:
Buying a Car
In order to have the upperhand, you need to know what cars are worth — so get very well acquainted with a car valuation site like Kelley Blue Book (this site has saved me countless times). This service is free, and it is definitely step one.
If you know how much a car is worth, you will be in the driver’s seat when the dealer throws out a price. The dealer is in business to try and make as much money as he/she can from the sale of the car. If you don’t go prepared with what the value of the car is, you may end up paying way more than you should.
Also, if you see a good price listed online — print out the page. A dealer may not be consistent with their pricing. What they post online, may not be what is on the car at the dealer.
Selling a Car
It’s important to know the value of your car, particularly if you are seeking a ‘cars for cash’ deal. There are many factors involved if you are trying to sell your used car. Not only do you need to know the value based on the year, make, model, and mileage, you need to also be aware of the condition of the vehicle. Your car will be worth more if it is put in a garage every night than if it is left outside. Weather can prematurely age a vehicle which will subsequently decrease the value.
If your car is from one area, it will be worth more than a similar car from another area, because of its exposure to various elements. Also be aware that all the bells and whistles that you have invested in throughout the life of the car, will increase the value. The more information you have about your vehicle, the more accurate a valuation you’ll receive and the more negotiating power you will have.
And please don’t sell your car (especially for cash) by yourself. Always have someone with you. Having someone who knows a thing or two about cars with you is ideal, but even a friend who is just as clueless is better than nothing.
Know That Insurance Companies Will Try To Take Advantage, Too
Insurance companies will assess the value of your car in order to provide an accurate car insurance quote, there will always be insurance companies that will undervalue your car. This will result in a lower payout, should you experience an accident. This can have detrimental effect on you financially, particularly if you have a car loan to pay off. If they know you have done your homework and know what your car is worth, they will be less apt to try to take advantage of you.
Keep Up With Maintenance
Now that you have a car, you have to take care of it. Keeping up with basic maintenance could prevent a lot of expensive (and even dangerous) issues down the road. Below are a few things you must stay on top of:
- Oil Changes (try to get an oil change at the beginning of every season).
- Have a savings for tire and brake replacements — both will eventually need to be replaced.
- Keep it clean — this will keep everything lookin’ good, and could help up the value later on.
- Make sure your tires are full for both safety and tire maintenance — learning how to do this on your own is extremely important. You should also have a tire air pressure gauge in your glove compartment. Checking your air pressure once a month would be ideal.
If something happens to your car, don’t just go with the first quote you hear from a mechanic. You’ll save yourself a bunch of money if you call around and ask the right questions. You should also use your words wisely — never say “I only have $500 to fix my car, how much will it be?” You will automatically be charged $500, when the market price for that service may only be $450.
Not everyone will be trying to rip you off, just know that it happens often, and being able to spot it will help you save money in the long run.
Do you own a car or are you a city girl? Let us know in the comments below!