People hate buying cars. New cars, used cars, trucks, SUVs — it doesn’t matter. Pick a study, and you’ll find that people say they can’t stand the vehicle-buying process. It’s too stressful, people say. The salespeople are pushy, the prices are confusing, and it’s hard to know that you’re getting the right vehicle — a very upsetting prospect, given what these things cost!
But don’t worry — we’re here to help. Here are a few ways to reduce the stress that comes with shopping for a new vehicle.
Skip the dealership (or spend less time there)
Why do Americans find car buying so stressful? If you ask many of us, it’s because of the dealership experience.
It’s easy to see why. Car dealership employees want you to buy something fast, because they work on commission. Car dealerships offer a limited selection. Their pricing systems are confusing (there are so many “upgrades” and “packages,” and consumers are expected to haggle). Studies show that lots of people walk away from the dealership feeling like they’ve been ripped off.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can and should expand your car shopping destinations to include online auto sales and auto auction destinations. Shopping for new and used cars online will expand your options beyond what’s available on the dealership lot, and it will save you money. Perhaps most importantly of all, it will keep your stress levels lower!
Get your financial house in order ahead of time
One of the main reasons that car buying is so stressful is obvious: cars are expensive! It’s no secret that most Americans do not have a ton of cash lying around. Most Americans (63%, to be exact) are not ready to handle an expense of $500 without having to take out some kind of loan. And $500 is nothing compared to the price of a car. On average, a brand-new car will cost you more than $36,000. And if you think buying a used car will spare you the hit to the wallet, you’d better take a look at the average price of a used car — it’s over $20,000!
There’s not much getting around this, unfortunately. You can and should find ways to save (we’ll share a few in this article), but don’t assume that you’re going to find a great car for a few thousand bucks. Super-cheap cars are usually cheap for a reason, and some of the most “affordable” options will turn out to be pricey when you factor in the repairs and other expenses that their unreliability will force you to shell out for.
One way to make cars more affordable is to take out a loan, but you shouldn’t take out too much car debt. You need to be careful! To get the best car loan for you, you’ll need to know what you can afford (not what the pushy salesperson says that you can afford). You’ll need to have decent credit, so that you can get a good rate. And you’ll need to stick the budget you establish.
One great way to do this is to take care of the financial stuff early. Do a credit check-up on yourself. Go on a financial diet and save up some cash for a downpayment. Nail down your budget and commit to sticking to it. And get your financing taken care of before you go look at cars, so that you get a good and healthy deal and are not tempted to take out more debt than you planned in order to get a specific vehicle.
Do lots of research
One of the most stressful things about buying a car is the feeling that you don’t have enough information to make the right decision — and that time is running out. That’s an easy feeling to come by at a dealership, where pushy salespeople abound. But it can happen anywhere, even when you’re shopping online from the comfort of your own home. An auction is ending. A car you want is about to slip out of reach. But what is it worth? What should you bid? It’s too late to find out now!
It doesn’t have to be this way. Do your homework before you start shopping, and you’ll find things much less stressful. Looking at cars you might consider can be fun if you’re not really considering them yet. Gather information casually as you begin to consider the possibility of buying a new car. Start taking notes and comparing models in spreadsheets as your intentions get more serious. By the time you actually look at specific cars for sale or take a test drive at the dealership, you should really, really know your stuff — and that will make you feel a lot less out of your element!
Car buying can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Take your time. Do your research. Prepare your budget. Shop online. You can do this!