When shopping for a new vehicle, performing due diligence is a must. After all, purchasing a car is the second most expensive consumer purchase we make after a house — a decision to live with for many years. Once you narrow your search to the make and model vehicle you want, reach out to a dealership to arrange a test drive. There are certain questions to ask when buying a car that will help guide your purchasing decision. Below are several questions to ask your sales rep, whose answers will help you find the right vehicle for you.
Key Questions to Ask When Buying a Car
Before you ask any questions at the dealership, there are a few to ask yourself: Does this car meet my needs? Will it make me happy? Can I afford it? An honest assessment of your needs, desires and affordability should be determined first.
1. Is this a demo car? The vehicle you have in mind may have been driven before. Although some are not technically used cars, others are. They may have been used as a demonstration vehicle, so there may already be hundreds of miles on the odometer. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a demo, but only at a discount.
2. How does the technology work? Today’s vehicles have a slew of technologies available depending on the trim and packages offered. Some technologies automatically kick in when the vehicle is in drive, while others, such as adaptive cruise control, must be manually activated. A dealer representative should explain how each feature works. Allow them to demonstrate the audio, navigation and safety systems, and answer your questions while you’re on the road.
3. What are the warranties? All automakers offer warranties, covering bumper-to-bumper repairs, the powertrain and rust. Electric vehicles have an additional warranty. Find out how long each warranty is, what’s covered and your possible cash outlay. Ask about extended warranties and the cost to purchase one.
4. Where will I take my car for repairs? Repairs and warranty work are typically handled by the dealer through the business’ on-site maintenance and repair shop. Make your first maintenance appointment, such as an oil change, before leaving with your vehicle.
5. What’s my final cost? Hopefully, you’re a strong negotiator and have arranged a deal that’s saved you thousands of dollars. Manufacturer incentives, including rebates and low-cost financing, are among the ways you can save. Other incentives, including military, college graduate, brand loyalty or conquest rebates, may lower your cost further. Add in documentation fees, taxes, tags, dealer add-ons and preparation fees, and your cost may be far higher than what you thought. Never sign a contract before understanding your “out-the-door” price.
6. Can you deliver the vehicle? Perhaps your negotiation wasn’t with a local dealer. Instead, you’ve turned to the internet (as is common these days) and found the vehicle you want, but it is hours away, maybe in another state. If the dealer wants your business, they’ll get the car to your home or office with printed contracts in hand. Also, ask if there is an extra cost for this service.
7. Do you accept returns? If you have buyer’s remorse, can you return the vehicle, and at what cost? The federal “cooling-off rule” doesn’t apply to new car purchases, but that doesn’t mean your dealer won’t allow it, although it could cost you.
Take Your Time
Never rush into any purchase, especially one as costly as purchasing a car. Including a friend in the process is a great way to help gauge if you’re on track.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on buying a car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.