by Brandon Luciano, Operations Manager at Wellesley Toyota
1. How long will you be keeping the car?
The projected length of ownership may have a huge bearing on what kind of vehicle you are going to purchase. Customers are keeping their cars longer than they used to, so be sure to do your research on quality ratings and long term ownership experiences.
2. Do Some Recon Work
Go check out the cars in person. A car may look good on paper (or on your computer screen), but you may hate the way it drives. Or hate the blind spot in the back. Or the way the seat is configured. Start your research online, and narrow it down to a few different vehicles. Then go see them and drive them. You will be tremendously upset if you spend weeks narrowing all your choices down to one specific car and then hate it when you finally drive it. You’ll have to start all over again.
3. Ownership costs
When buying a car, many customers determine the value that a vehicle offers by comparing the price tag vs. the features and benefits. For example, if one car costs a bit more money but has better gas mileage and more cargo room, most would consider that a good value. Based solely on that criteria, they would be correct. However, most customers don’t consider all the costs that go into a vehicle. One of the sites I always encourage customers to check out is Intellichoice.com. They do a great 5-Year Cost of Ownership projection for new and even used cars. This projection takes all of the different factors into account including depreciation, financing costs, repairs, maintenance, fuel, and insurance. It totals them all up over the cost of 5 years, and compares that to the industry average for that vehicle's class. Depending on how far above (or below) the total number is from the average, Intellichoice places a rating on the car. All of Toyota’s vehicles are labeled “Excellent” whereas most of Jeep’s vehicles are labeled “Poor” or “Below Average.”
4. Fuel Economy (REALLY!)
People nowadays really want to maximize fuel economy. Understandably so. However,people don’t stop to consider the monetary value that is equated with each mile per gallon. A great resource that I use almost daily is FuelEconomy.gov. This site has a ton of information about fuel economy, hybrid powertrains, and how the EPA rates cars. The most useful part is the ability to compare cars side-by-side. You can select up to four vehicles and compare them all to each other in terms of fuel economy. It offers helpful information like the cost to drive 25 miles, the size of the tank, the carbon footprint of the vehicle, your expected annual fuel costs, and a lot more. It even allows you to personalize all the fuel economy numbers based on your annual mileage and driving habits. This information may help you realize that maybe you SHOULD consider a hybrid, or transversely, maybe you should get the V6 instead of the 4-Cyl because it really won’t cost that much more in gas. Either way, it will help.
5. It’s Not Just About Price!!!!
It’s true that you can buy exactly the same car at several different dealerships. However, remember that who you do business with should be a big part of your decision. Do business with a dealer that you trust. Making phone calls and sending emails is convenient, but go visit these places. Feel them out. See how you’re treated. Our philosophy is that if you buy a car from us, you are part of the family. If something goes wrong with your car in the future, we feel obligated to take care of you! Not all dealerships operate that way. If you need service on your car, you want it done quickly, correctly, and with as little hassle as possible. If you had a bad sales experience, chances are your service experiences will be poor as well. Go check out their facility. What does their showroom look like? How clean and organized is their service department? Will they even let you see the service department? All of these factors can form a pretty good barometer on how this dealership conducts business and treats its customers. A modern facility with an organized showroom and a spotless service department is a good sign. The company has pride in its appearance and is methodical in maintaining an efficient facility for their customers. Believe me, it’s better to spend a few extra dollars on your car when you are buying the car from a place that you are happy with.