Are you considering buying a new or used vehicle? Leaves are falling, there’s a crisp feeling in the air, everything is pumpkin spice-flavored, and it’s car-buying season! New 2020 models are out, and people are trading owned vehicles for the latest and greatest. With more options than you could possibly have time to thoroughly research, we want to help you think through key considerations as you prepare to buy a new or used car. We hope the following pointers help you avoid impulse-buying pitfalls and future unnecessary car troubles.
1. What’s Your Budget?
Not to state the obvious, but knowing your financial status and target price point in advance is of utmost importance. There can be many hidden fees in the car-buying process, so you need to estimate the cash you have to put down, the monthly payment you can afford (if applicable), and enough money to pay the sales tax, title & license plate fee, and car insurance upfront. Don’t forget to account for interest, if you will finance your car. Also, know your credit score ahead of time so you can research the types of loans you’ll qualify for.
2. Are You Buying Used or New?
Consumers have strong opinions about whether buying a new or used car is of greater value. Some say that new cars instantly lose value once they’re off the lot, making them a terrible waste of money. Others buy new cars for peace-of-mind, status-related reasons, a solid warranty or to avoid expensive repair costs for the first few years. Sometimes, a used car that looks like a great deal can be a ticking time bomb, waiting until you’ve signed the paperwork to self-destruct.
Take any used car you are considering to a reputable mechanic and transmission shop for a thorough inspection before handing over your money. Be wary of extended warranties. Customers often assume they are protecting themselves with this option; however, many extended warranty companies deny costly claims – especially regarding transmission-related issues.
Whether you decide to buy new or used, doing your research in advance can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
3. Consider the Brand
A great place to start is by narrowing down which car manufacturers will provide reliable, well-made vehicles. You can consult Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, or other credible resources to help you find a few brands, makes, and models that you want to continue researching.
Some articles may list American-made cars as the most popular, but that may be due to the fact that we are in America. Those brands might not actually offer the best cars. Likewise, popular German cars may feel luxurious, but they often have more expensive repairs, an important fact to keep in mind.
Now is your chance to find out what options exist, then quickly begin narrowing down your search to be more manageable and specific to your needs and desires.
4. Know the Typical Strengths and Weaknesses
Makes and models have unique features, and cars earn reputations based on what they do well and common problems owners face with a specific type of car. For example, some models are known for having issues with the transmission. Other models may have reputations for requiring frequent brake pad replacements or needing major engine repair after a certain number of miles. These stereotypes will not always apply, but you’d be wise to know what you might be getting into before signing the dotted line.
5. What’s the Resale Value?
Another important factor to consider is what your car’s resale value will be down the road. If you’re going to pay $20,000 now and only be able to sell it for $4,000 in five years, that might not be a great option. On the other hand, if you buy the car for $25,000 now and then sell it for $5,000 in 15 years, that car retains its value really well. For example, Toyotas tend to be worth more down the road than some other car brands.
6. Consider Fuel Economy
In a time when gas prices can rise and fall unpredictably and being eco-friendly is on-trend, fuel economy has become more important to many consumers. A car that offers a higher miles-per-gallon rate might seem really attractive, but it’s important to understand what that might mean for you down the road.
Car manufacturers have started putting 8-10 speed automatic transmissions into newer cars; however, a handful of years ago most transmissions were 4 speed. Vehicles normally would last 120,000-200,000 miles before needing a transmission rebuild, which meant car owners didn’t need to plan for that costly repair soon after buying a new car.
Having more transmissions speeds means better fuel economy because the engine doesn’t need to “rev” as hard to get to the next speed. However, the more speeds a transmission has, the less durable it is and the more maintenance it will require. It would make sense that more moving parts, added electrification, and tough driving conditions all contribute to less durability. So, while you may save some money on gas and help protect the environment, you also may need a full transmission rebuild under 100,000 miles, which adds a huge expense.
7. What Are You Using the Car For?
Consumers often forget to consider what they need the vehicle for, but this question can influence what car you end up choosing. For instance, does your new vehicle need to tow a trailer? Are you using the car in a city with lots of stop-and-go traffic? Are you wanting to cruise down the coast with the wind in your hair?
You also might be able to purchase the same year, make, or model of the car you want with a lighter or heavier transmission, depending on how hard you will be pushing the vehicle.
8. Look Out for CVT Transmissions
Continuous variable transmissions (CVTs) are single-speed transmissions that transition smoothly through gear ratios as the driver accelerates. While CVTs have some valuable benefits, they can also be much more likely to fail, especially if the car is being driven on tougher terrains and in higher altitudes. Many times, you must buy a new CVT transmission from a dealer which can be extremely expensive and often does not come with a good warranty.
This list of things to consider is not conclusive, however, it should give you a head start for your car-buying process!
Advanced Transmission Center
Serving the greater Denver area, we service numerous makes and types of transmissions. We are experts in transmission rebuilds, and we pride ourselves in offering fast, honest service, free or subsidized towing, and great transmission warranties. Call our Westminster (Northwest Denver) location at (303) 421-4140, our Lakewood (Southwest Denver) location at (303) 922-4102 or contact us online to schedule a free TrueTest inspection!