Reader Question: Hi Austin, I'm having such a hard time making decision in regards to a car purchase. I also know that being a girl makes it a bit more difficult simply because car salesmen automatically assume that 'girls' don't know anything. The typical stereotype. I'm looking to buy a new and reliable car that's affordable at the same time. I know I shouldn't mention monthly payments to dealers (which makes sense) but I honestly couldn't afford to pay more than $300/month and that's hoping it includes insurance payments as well.
I want to finance a car as opposed to lease. I prefer making payments toward a vehicle that I know is going to be mine at the end of 5 years. Do you have any suggestions on what type of cars are in the $15,000-$20,000 price range (Canadian $) that are reliable and where my payments include all the extra costs as well? So far, my heart is in the Chevrolet Malibu and the Mazda Protege...but of course I'm also considering the Chevrolet Cavalier (because it's cheaper). Can you maybe name some other models that you'd recommend? That way I can do more research on each one.
And how do I know what's a "good" deal on a car? What price should I settle on or what kind of questions do I ask? Some strategic negotiating questions or tips would also be greatly appreciated if it's not too much to ask.
Thank you, Adrienn
Hi and thanks for the e-mail. My area of expertise really is maintaining and repairing cars--not purchasing them--but I do have a few valuable tidbits of information to pass on to you. First of all, read my Car Quotes article and see if it helps you. I included some of the best links I could find to give my readers the resources they need to make the decisions you are trying to make right now. The Cavalier is a first time buyer car and you might be able to get zero financing (or at least that is an option in the US). Ask the salesman about a first time buyer program. Some of them give you money back on the purchase…which you should apply to the loan amount. I would not pay more than 4% annual interest rate on any car right now, but I bet you can find 0% if you do your homework.
Find the car you like, negotiate the price, negotiate the finance %, have them research all first time buyer rebates, ask them if they are holding any other rebates, then have them calculate the monthly payment. You want to negotiate the purchase price not the monthly payment! To maximize your return on your old car, you should try to sell your car to an individual and not trade it in to the dealer. Also, you might ask the salesman about any cars left over from last year that they want to make a deal on, or a leased car that was traded back in early. You should also read my article on what to look for when buying a used vehicle: Used Car Check List.
My personal favorite low maintenance cost vehicles are Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. You usually do not see very many low mileage used Accords or Camry's because they hold up so well people don't want to part with them. These cars also hold up their re-sell value well too, which should also be taken into consideration when purchasing a new car. In my opinion the Cavalier does not hold its value well, and its maintenance record does not compare to the Camry or Accord.
When shopping for a new car, dress professionally and not like you just stopped in on the way to the beach. Most salespeople will size you up by your appearance first, and then by how much you know or what you don’t know about the product. Use the links in the first article to get to know everything you can about the car before you walk onto the lot. That way the salesman knows you know your stuff and will be less likely to try to take advantage of you. It really does help to be an educated consumer!
This valuable tidbit is just one of the many cost-saving items you will learn about when you visit our Website TrustMyMechanic.com. I hope this helps.
Austin C Davis
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