When buying a car, take your time

Kathryn Turner
Summit Daily News
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Over at High Country Auto in Frisco, co-owner Kerri Marsh gets a lot of questions about cars – not just fixing them, but buying another one when a customer’s existing auto is beyond repair. Whether someone is buying new or used, Marsh said there are ways to reduce buyer anxiety – and avoid buyer’s remorse.

1. Take your time.

Too many people rush into a new purchase without doing the necessary research, and they end up having buyer’s remorse, Marsh said – and it’s something she sees all too often.

“A car is so incredibly expensive these days,” she said. “There’s so many things to think about. You have to do research before you buy it.”

Marsh suggests going online to look at NADA Guides or Kelly Blue Book to see how much a car is really worth, and check out comparable prices in the area by looking at the newspaper or Craigslist.

2. Always have a different independent repair shop perform a used vehicle inspection before buying. “They can check for major and minor issues, which you can use to determine the price,” Marsh said. “They can also review what services should have already been done before you buy the car,” like a tune-up, timing belt, tires and brakes.

3. Ask repair shops which cars they work on the most, and listen to them.

“If their parking lot is full of one brand or another, this should be a sign to steer clear of that brand,” Marsh said. People need to ask themselves, “is it actually worth what these people are asking?”

Shops can also give buyers an idea of what repairs in the future will cost, so they know what to budget for, Marsh said.

4. Price the extras out ahead of time. Too many people don’t look at what the insurance, license plate taxes and common repairs like windshields, tires, oil changes and light bulbs might cost, and often find themselves surprised, and sometimes unprepared when they come up, Marsh said. For example, the xenon light bulbs on Audi are $300. On hybrids, the batteries need to be replaced at 100,000 miles – which runs $5,000, Marsh said.

5. Check out the fuel economy.

Marsh said this could be the most important tip, since it helps buyers save money in the future. Four-wheel drive vehicles use more fuel, taller sports utility vehicles use more than a smaller car, and autos with automatic transmissions are less fuel efficient than those with manuals – sometimes 30 percent less, Marsh said. Diesel engines get better fuel economy than gasoline.

“All newer vehicles have similar safety ratings, and the statement that ‘I feel safer in my SUV than I would in my car’ is not true,” Marsh said. “Whenever I see a rollover on I-70, it’s usually a top-heavy four-wheel drive SUV.”

6. What fits your lifestyle?

Many drivers might not need as big of a car as they think, Marsh said.

“Do you need a lot of room, or are you a one-person driver?” Marsh said. “Check out the room in smaller wagon-type vehicles versus taller SUVs and you’d be surprised to find out that the inside cubic space is very similar.”

7. Examine the car’s history.

Does the car have a clean title? How many owners? Where did the vehicle originate (which state or region)? Does the owner have all the service records? Do all four tires match? Does the paint look original?

“The dealers usually don’t have any records on used vehicles, but ask if they can track any services done at the dealership, or any recalls,” Marsh said.

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