Become an Educated Car Shopper
Are You Smart About Shopping For Used Cars?
Please close your eyes and repeat after me.
You’re smart. You’re capable. You’re worthy.
Now, breathe in. And breathe out. Inhale. Exhale. That feels nice, doesn’t it?
Now that you’re feeling calm and supported, we’re going to give you some bad news: You might not be the smartest car shopper.
Don’t take this to heart—it’s tough to be an expert in something that you do so rarely. Not many of us can say that we go car shopping regularly, so why would we automatically be the smartest car shopper? Unfortunately, our lack of car-buying smarts impacts us financially. In the United States, car owners pay, on average, $530 a month in loan payments on new cars. The good news is, more and more Americans are seeking out better deals on new cars or buying used cars and saving themselves close to $200 a month in monthly payments.
Are you ready for more bad news? You shouldn’t be basing your financial capabilities on your monthly payments alone. You also need to consider how much overall you’ll be paying for your car, interest included.
Many of our customers come to us with concerns about the buying process. They feel as though they don’t have a good handle on how to find the best financing for their situation. The right car dealership, like Zeck Ford in the Kansas City metro area, can help you navigate finding a car loan. Still, there are also ways you can be an educated shopper and make better decisions on your behalf.
Figure Out What You Can Afford
Any time you make a substantial financial decision—buying a car, for instance—you should always create a budget beforehand. Monthly and yearly budgeting is a great habit to get into in your everyday life, as it helps you take better control of your financial situation. However, if you don’t have the time to do a monthly and yearly budget, you can do a quick overview of your expenses and spending money and determine how much you are willing to pay each month (or total) on a car.
Zeck Ford has a few tools that can help shoppers understand how much they’ll be paying because sometimes the stickers on dealership cars aren’t transparent enough. Our payment calculator allows you to play around with interest rates, down payments, and more to help you see the bigger picture regarding your overall purchase. If you have a car you plan on trading in, our trade-in calculator puts a number on how much you should get for your old car. Having an estimated trade-in value number can let you further play around with down payments in the payment calculator.
Keep Yourself In The Know
Of course, doing a little outside research about cars and trucks, in general, also helps you become an informed and knowledgeable shopper. You don’t need to know everything about all aspects of motor vehicles. Still, there are a few topics on which you should keep yourself informed: average prices for cars, trucks, and SUVs (in general); the market price of your favorite vehicles, available through Kelley Blue Book; and customer feedback about their experiences at car dealerships.
- Get feedback from customers who know best. Existing customers of car dealerships in Kansas City can give you information on the best places to buy a new or used car—like Zeck Ford in Leavenworth. Ask your friends and family for their recommendations, or check out online review sites for candid reviews. Look for reviews that mention friendly and low-pressure personal shoppers and no need to haggle to get a great deal. (We think you’ll find that Zeck Ford meets both of these criteria.)
- Research the average price for body styles of vehicles you’re interested in: cars, trucks, and SUVs. Don’t just research the average cost of a car in the United States. This number is skewed because each class of vehicle costs a different amount on average. Knowing the average prices of each vehicle class will allow you to make a better-informed decision about the type of vehicle you might want to buy.
- Research the vehicle models you like and keep yourself informed on their market value. Specific trimlines also have different values. If there are any cars or trucks you are head over heels about, definitely do some in-depth research on them before hitting up a car dealership.
Know When a New Car Won’t Meet Your Needs (and When a Used Car Will)
Part of becoming an educated car shopper is understanding that new cars aren’t better than used and vice versa.
Asking questions about the mileage, history, and warranty on a used car will help you shop well. These questions determine how hard a vehicle has been used in the past, potentially help determine its lifespan, and help you figure out whether it ultimately will be worth the buy.
Asking questions about the MPG, pricing, technology, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ratings on either a pre-owned or new car is the best way to determine whether it is right for you. These questions will help you weigh the cost against certain factors (like how well it does on gas), as well as determining that it is a safe car for the kind of driving you plan to do. In new vehicles, safety should be a priority.
Know Your Limits (And Work With a Reputable Dealer)
If you’re getting confused about the differences between makes and models of vehicles, don’t get upset! It is natural to feel overwhelmed when you have to consider so many factors to make a decision as important as purchasing a car. Working with a reputable dealer can not only ease some of the stress you feel, but it can also help you get a better understanding of cars with the help of someone who knows their stuff!
The best dealer in the Kansas City area who can help you with all your questions is Zeck Ford. Not only do they have a history of customer satisfaction, but they have a huge inventory of new and used vehicles available in Leavenworth, Kansas. Practice your car shopper know-how with us—with no commissioned salespeople to pressure you into a vehicle you are unsure about. Visit us at 4501 South 4th Street in Leavenworth, or schedule an appointment to talk to one of our personal shoppers.