By November 22, 20050 Comments Read More →

Simple Tips to Buying and New or Used Car Easier

Reader Question
My car is getting old and my repair bills are getting larger and more frequent. How do I know when to get a new car and stop repairing my existing one?
Thanks, Jim Rance

Dear Jim,

I get asked this question quite often, but in some cases not often enough. Seems some people have a “problem” with a $300 a month new car payment, but they are perfectly comfortable with paying the same if not more on monthly repair bills and accept the inconveniences that come with them. I don’t know what “drives” people to a high mileage goal? I hear customers comment “This car has to go another 20,000 miles” or brag about how many miles they are determined to put on their vehicles. “I am going to drive this vehicle 180,000 miles whether it likes it or not”. Now if this is a challenge for you, by all means take it, but I can think of many other challenges less costly. Granted, some cars will last a long time and do so with relatively low maintenance cost, but this is not the norm.

How does one know when to throw in the shop rag and get a new car? Well, I don’t have a crystal ball bearing, but I can provide some helpful guidelines to assist you in your evaluation process.

First: Perform an evaluation of your vehicle yourself using our used car check out list from our Website. The check out is self explaining and easy to use. If you have a concern or a potential problem you might uncover with an item on the list, have your mechanic inspect it during the next step.

Second: Determine what future maintenance cost will or could be. I have assembled a helpful maintenance schedule to help you forecast costly maintenance items. Print out the maintenance schedules that are closest to your current mileage and the next higher mileage schedule. Take your car to the mechanic (hopefully the mechanic that you regularly visit and have a good relationship with) and pay them to inspect all the items on the two schedules. The cost of these inspections should be fairly inexpensive, and the information they will provide will be more than worth the expense. Add up all recommended repair costs plus all previous repairs during the year. Divide this number by 12 to determine your average repair cost for the given year. This number will not however include any breakdown or unexpected repairs.

Third: How much is your car worth? Trading in your vehicle for a new car is the easiest, but will not bring in the most money for you. The new car dealer will pay you a wholesale price for your car, and in doing this you are leaving money on the table. Selling your vehicle to an individual at a retail price will require a little more work on the part of the seller, but there can be greater financial gain in doing so.

New Cars & Trucks – Free Quotes. Are you looking for a new car or truck? Get free (no obligation) quotes from the following new and used car buying services, then use those quotes to convince other dealers to lower their prices. If the other dealers can’t beat the lowest Internet quote, you may have found the best possible deal on that car.

Used Car Prices – The Internet is a great place for new and used car prices, SUV’S and Marine.

These free services can provide you with similar “comparable” vehicles like yours, so you can get a feel for the market in your area. I recommend going to see and test drive your competition before you set a price on your car. Take along the used car check list (from our homepage) and evaluate the competition just as you did your car. How does your car compare? Could you place a higher price on your car after your evaluation, or is your competition in better shape? There are a number of items that you can add (Or subtract) to the value that you find on the Internet. These items would include overall appearance, well kept maintenance records, low mileage, upgrades (stereo equipment, tires and wheels, bug shields…etc) and customer added items.

Fourth: How much will your next car cost, and how will you pay for it? Now that you have determined your yearly repair costs, the value of your current vehicle, and a possible sales price you must calculate the monthly payment of the new car. Paying a larger down payment on the new car will lower the monthly payment. How much of the sale of your current car can you use as a down payment on the new car? When buying the new car be sure to take advantage of rebate incentives and low or zero interest on certain models the factory is trying to move out. Keep in mind you are replacing a vehicle that you know will be incurring future repair costs, so don’t take on more money debt than you can handle. Hopefully you have a month or two before these expected repair bills will be required, so you will have some time to price shop the new car, and have time to sell your current vehicle.

Some things to consider: In my opinion I would replace your current vehicle if your average yearly repair bills are more than ten percent of the price of the new car you would like. These four steps are just a guide to help you remove the emotion tied to selling your current car and buying the new one. After doing these steps you might find that you are not in the “money pit” and the maintenance schedules and check list gave you an easy way to forecast and plan for up coming repair expenses.

Used Cars History Reports. Don’t buy any used car or truck without checking its history first. Has it ever been salvaged? Flooded? In a major accident? Odometer rolled back? Find out in seconds when you order a free Carfax

Extended Warranties/Service Contracts. If you’re shopping for new or used cars, you can protect yourself against most major repair bills by purchasing a good extended warranty. But don’t pay those high dealership prices just to get a little peace of mind! If you already bought new or used cars without getting an extended warranty, you can still purchase one as long as the vehicle is within certain mileage limits. Vehicles that are still covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty usually qualify for new car rates; vehicles with expired warranties are all rated as used cars.

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