Be Smart when Purchasing a Car

Buying a car seems simple enough. A person needs something to get them from point A to point B, goes to the dealership and buys a vehicle. If only it were so easy!

The reality is there is a lot more to purchasing a vehicle than simply going to the dealership or replying to an ad on Craig's List. There is safety to consider, ratings, the terrain you'll be driving on, mileage on the vehicle, financing, the condition of the vehicle itself and myriad other variables that can make the decision not only time-consuming but stressful.

Aside from research, there is another potential obstacle: making sure the car is as advertised. While laws exist in California to prohibit dealers and individuals from selling vehicles considered lemons, or vehicles in poor condition without warning the buyer, this often times is not enough to discourage dishonesty. As a result, California has the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, or lemon laws, which basically provide that if a vehicle cannot be reasonably repaired for the same or similar concerns after two or more attempts, the purchase price of the vehicle or a new vehicle of the same value is substituted for the buyer.

However, simpler than enforcing the laws is to beware when buying. As with anything else, the purchase of a vehicle has a list of do's and don'ts to protect the buyer. The website Money Crashers was created to help individuals make good financial decisions, and it lists several tips to make sure you get the best deal possible.

Money Crashers suggests first doing research. Know what kind of car you're looking for and what it should cost. Check pre-financing options; options from dealerships, in the long run, eventually cost more than rates you may receive from banks and credit unions.

Once you've shopped and compared to find the vehicle you want, Money Crashers suggests negotiating terms. Don't purchase a vehicle for the asking price. Instead, offer far less money and more favorable terms than you are willing to pay in order to get the best possible deal. When you finally reach an agreement, make sure you are purchasing based on purchase price, not on monthly payments.

Whatever you do, make sure not to make an impulse buy. Sure, the red Porsche that costs the same as the 10-year-old SUV seems like a great deal, but anything that seems too good to be true probably is.

If you are financing, avoid add-ons that salesmen inevitably encourage. Built-in GPS, extended warranties, rust-proofing and dealer maintenance plans are unnecessary, more expensive than if you purchased elsewhere, and will drive up the overall price of the vehicle.

But before reaching this point, make sure the car is not a lemon. Test drive it. Check some of the simple mechanics yourself. For example:

Idle – The car shouldn't shudder and shake during idling, but be smooth and quiet.

View – Check for blind spots, even inside the car. Make sure you can see clearly with the mirrors, as well as the dashboard.

Controls – Check items like windshield wipers and blinkers – if there are several small problems, it may be indicative of larger problems overall.

Handling and brakes – Make sure the car accelerates smoothly and the brakes aren't stiff or choppy.

Most people are not experts on cars; because of this, it's a good idea to have an objective mechanic look the vehicle over. The mechanic should know what to check for, and in most cases will be able to tell if anything is wrong.

Buying a vehicle can be both stressful and exhausting. Follow the tips of experts and use your common sense. It's usually easier to avoid problems from the start than to fix them after they occur.

With more than 40 years of legal experience, the Neale & Fhima team is proud to have helped thousands of people in Orange County and all of Southern California with their legal needs. With a 99 percent success rate in all cases, Neale & Fhima has the knowledge, experience and resources to help you. If you have questions or wish to schedule a consultation, contact us online or call 949.661.1007.

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