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How to Make an Informed Decision on Your Next Car Purchase

Have you ever stretched yourself to buy a car that is near the top of your budget, only to find that it needs major repairs?  Buying a pre-owned vehicle can be stressful and daunting but I would like to share a few tips that are sure to help.

Before you embark on your pre-owned car adventure, ask yourself a few questions... Do you want a simple car, one with high MPG, 4x4, or driver-assist features?  Knowing what you do and don’t want, will keep you from being swayed by sales-people.

What features are important to you?

There are pros and cons to every feature on a vehicle.  All the bells and whistles on a vehicle are nice when they work but they create additional maintenance and repair costs.  A few years ago, I had a customer bring in a 10-year-old BMW X5 that she had recently purchased.  She was concerned about a clunking noise that she heard.  We inspected it and found that her sway bar was damaged which is usually a simple fix.  The BMW sway bar was electronic and the repair cost 50% of what she had paid for the vehicle two weeks earlier.  She would not have made the purchase if she knew what she was getting.

What about the features you do want? If there is an electronic feature you want, like Bluetooth, a DVD Player, or remote start, it is usually better to find a vehicle that already has those features.  In my experience, adding those features to a vehicle tends to cause more problems, in the long run, than they are worth.

What lies below the surface?

I can’t tell you much about the quality of a diamond, but I’ll bet a trained jeweler can. What makes them different? They have developed a skill of comparison by looking at thousands of stones.  Mechanics are similar, and a trained eye can tell a lot about a vehicles history.  Tire wear, the color and smell of fluids, and faint noises can all be clues for identifying major problems.  It is not necessary to have an inspection on every vehicle you test drive.  You will probably notice things that don’t feel right when you drive a car and there is no sense spending money on an inspection if you don’t feel good about it.  However, if a car passes your test and you think it’s the one, an inspection is definitely a wise investment.  One of two things will happen… you will either find that it is in perfect condition and you can buy it with confidence or you will find that it has problems.  Knowing about these problems before you make the purchase puts you in a great position.  With repair estimates in hand, you can either ditch the car or use the estimates to negotiate a better price. When you are ready for your next vehicle, give us a call! We would love to help!

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