Buying a car inspires equal amounts of excitement and anxiety. You’re eager to find something fun and functional, but at the same time, you’re worried about buying a lemon or paying too much. Those feelings are normal, especially if this is your first time purchasing a vehicle or upgrading to a brand-new car. Fortunately, you don’t need to be an experienced expert to shop for your next vehicle like a pro. Use these insights to have the best experience possible:
1. Know Your Rights
The state of Idaho protects you from shady car dealers by requiring anyone selling vehicles to have a license. As part of the licensing process, dealers must obtain an Idaho Auto Dealer Bond. If the dealer ever breaks state laws – by selling you a lemon, for example – you can file a claim against the bond to recoup some or all the cost of the car. That is your right, but it only exists as long as you’re working with a licensed dealer who has a bond. An individual selling their personal vehicles don’t need a license or a bond, meaning you can’t file a claim if something goes wrong. For your own protection, limit your search to licensed dealers.
2. Define Your Needs, Wants, and Budget
It’s never a good idea to show up at a dealership with no sense of what you want to buy. Start focusing in on a specific make and model by first identifying what you need in a new vehicle – a certain number of seats, low miles, four-wheel-drive, etc. Next, think about the looks and features you want in a car. Finally, calculate how much you can afford to pay, in total and every month. By now, you should have a good idea of what your ideal car looks like in terms of specs, features, and sticker price.
3. Look for the Vehicle First
Now is a great time to buy a vehicle because car buyers have more power than ever. The internet has unleashed a wave of resources that make it relatively easy to find the car you want at competitive prices in your part of Idaho. Search for what you want online before visiting any dealership in person. Online research will tell you a lot about pricing, color options, features packages, and local availability. All this information helps you get the best deal possible and makes you feel more comfortable when you’re haggling over prices. Let the vehicles guide you to a dealership, not the other way around.
4. Vet the Dealership
Not all dealerships are created equal. Do some online research beforehand to determine how honest and customer-friendly a dealership is. Start by confirming they have an active auto dealer license because it means they also have an active Idaho auto dealer bond. Remember, it’s always a risk to buy from someone without a bond. Continue your research by reading online reviews to find out how other customers have been treated. Finally, check the dealership website to explore if any deals or incentives might apply to you. Working with the wrong dealer is a waste of time at best and a waste of money at worst, and in most cases, you will have multiple dealers to choose from. Be sure to consider all your options, not just the closest location or the loudest advertiser.
5. Be Willing to Walk Away
You have no obligation to buy a car when you walk into a dealership, even if you take it for a test drive or spend an hour talking with a salesperson. Buying a car is a big decision and an expensive investment, and for both those reasons you should walk away from any deal you’re not totally confident about. It could be the wrong vehicle, price, salesman, or dealership – any reason is enough. However, if you’re ready to buy something today, make your reservations known. Car dealers are happy to show you more options or haggle with you on price because most would rather close a sale than see you walk away. Plus, as long as they have an Idaho auto dealer bond, you know they’re unlikely to do anything illegal to get your business.
6. Debate Purchasing Options
Will you buy your next car outright, sign up for a lease agreement, or take out an auto loan? Each of these options has pros and cons based on your financial situation and long-term goals. For example, if you take out a loan, you will be able to pay off the car over a matter of years, but due to interest, you will pay more than if you paid the full purchase price today. Another example is if you were attracted to low monthly lease payments but didn’t account for the fact that lease agreements often restrict your mileage. Instead of relying on dealers to give you advice, research different purchasing options online. There are lots of ways to buy a vehicle no matter what your financial history is like.
Viking Bond Service works with a number of car dealerships in Idaho. Based on that experience, we can’t stress enough how important it is to buy from someone who has an Idaho auto dealer bond. It doesn’t guarantee you will get the perfect vehicle or the lowest price, but it does protect you from throwing your money away on a junk car. To get a better understanding of how all this works, we have created a guide all about surety bonds. Check it out as part of your car-buying process.