Buying a new car represents a significant purchase in nearly anyone’s life. Next to your home, it may be the biggest purchase (in terms of the amount of money) that you make.
While this decision is important, and making the right choice for your situation, tastes, wants, and needs is crucial, it is possible to over think the situation. Over-shopping for a new car is common, and it’s an easy trap to fall into.
The question is: does over-shopping for a new car yield a better result than making a decision in a reasonable amount of time with the information you have in front of you?
There are a few different ways to look at this, and everyone’s tolerance for risk is different. Eliminating the risk from the process of buying a new car is impossible, no matter how much research, test driving, and review reading you conduct.
Too many choices
We live in a world where decision fatigue is a real problem for many of us. We are forced to make choices, both large and small, from the moment we wake in the morning until the moment we fall asleep at night.
Buying a car presents another seemingly impossible number of choices.
- Which manufacturer is best?
- Which model meets your needs most completely?
- Which features should you choose?
- What about the color and trim package?
- How should you evaluate safety features?
- Which reviews are most reliable?
- How will you know you’ve found the one?
The first step to making a decision that feels right to you is understanding that in a world where there are simply too many options to make the “perfect” choice, it’s alright to decide to make the “best” choice.
Obsessing doesn’t improve results
Driving 15 different new cars and trying to put together a chart comparing features will only frustrate you (and your salesperson.)
Instead of obsessing over the details, try identifying a few things that are deal-breakers. Decide what is non-negotiable. If you must have a white, gold, or silver car, don’t consider a black or red car. If you realize that heated leather seats are a serious quality of life issue for you, don’t test drive a base model vehicle with cloth seats.
If you find it helpful to carry an actual list with you, go ahead and write down your deal-breakers before you go car shopping. Your salesperson will appreciate having a clear-cut set of guidelines to help you get the car you really want.
The automakers know you
It’s the vehicle manufacturer’s job to know their ideal customer. In fact, they spend an amazing amount of time and money learning about how to best get the attention of a potential new car buyer.
Automakers want to make you happy. They are always making vehicles that are more comfortable, more intuitive, safer, and more technologically advanced. They are also in hot competition with each other, so many safety and comfort features are the same from one vehicle brand to the next.
This makes the decision-making process much easier for you. If 90% of the car’s features are the same from one vehicle to the next, you have fewer choices to make.
Shop within your means
It’s important to be upfront and honest with your salesperson about how much car you can afford. It’s fun to shop for high-end luxury cars, but it you are potentially saddling yourself with a level of debt you will be uncomfortable with, you are on the wrong track.
Many people can get financing for more than they can comfortably pay for over time, so determine what that amount is using the knowledge you have about your personal financial situation. Don’t let the bank dictate how much money you spend.
One aspect of car shopping that many people overlook has much to do with the individual dealership from which you purchase the vehicle.
You’ll be returning to the service department at regular intervals for scheduled maintenance, so be sure to check out that area of the dealership. Find out whether you’ll have a loaner vehicle available to you while your car is being serviced. Is there a shuttle service? Are their hours convenient for you?
Read reviews of the dealership’s service department to get a good idea of what other customers are experiencing.
Even if you’ve made the best possible decision about which car to buy, if the service department isn’t completely dedicated to taking great care of you and your vehicle, you won’t be happy with your choice.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of over-shopping. You don’t have to submit to paralysis-by-analysis. After conducting a respectable amount of research, narrowing your choices down to just a few vehicles, checking your “deal breaker” list, evaluating the service department, and making sure you’re the cars on your short list fit into your budget, it’s time to choose the car that just feels right.