My Car Buying Experience: My Mistakes And What You Should Do

Everyone who knows me knows that my car is my baby. The 2015 Kia Forte. It’s the first big purchase I’ve ever made. I was randomly thinking that this December will be three years since I’ve had my car, and I remembered all the mistakes I made when buying it. I had the best intentions but things didn’t go as planned. Yet somehow it ended up being the best “mistake” of my life.

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I had been looking at cars for a couple months prior but never went through with going to see them in person. I was too scared and worried about money. I was looking for cars in my price range and knew I was ok but kept chickening out for some reason. I was in my third year of college back in 2015 and was driving a 1993 Toyota Corolla ( we still have that car) and it was starting to have problems (mainly battery issues) where it wouldn’t start. I did tons of research: learned what a car history report was (carfax), checked my credit score in advance since dealerships are known to lie about your score being lower than what it really is, found a budget I could safely afford and looked at the most reliable and safe car brands.

I actually went down to look at only one other car before I bought the car I have now. It was a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse which was my dream car when I was a kid (the other was a Cadillac Escalade). It was around $6,000 and had the expected amount of mileage for the age of the car. The outside was pristine, it looked brand new and had amazing rims which I’m a sucker for. Even though the car was what I was looking for, I knew I was rushing into it and left. The dealership kept calling me for a while afterwards but I never returned their calls. I didn’t want to rush into things and I wanted to bring someone with me next time to help with my decision. Another car I had been interested in was the Kia Soul, or you may know it as the hamster car due to the commercials. I booked an appointment to go look at one at a dealership and received a call a few days later saying they had sold it. I was extremely upset and initially didn’t want to do business with them anymore but figured it’s their job to sell cars and not keep them on hold for someone. I decided to bring my mom down as I had found another car I wanted to look at: the Hyundai Elantra. We show up and once again they say they had sold the car (my luck). So we look around and I see this beautiful white car with amazing rims ( did I say I’m a sucker for nice rims?) I come around and look at the passenger side and I notice a small dent with some paint chips missing but I’m thinking to myself “this car is so beautiful” so it doesn’t phase me. I come to the windshield and what does the price say? $13,000! Out of my price range. In comes the typical sleazy car salesman who starts sweet talking me, saying he could get me the best deal he had and off the lot that same day. I think everyone knows to not listen to the salesman, I know I did, but when you’re in front of a car you really love and you’re acting on impulse…..all logical thoughts go straight out the window.

This is where things start to get a little blurry (probably because I was so blinded by impulse). I remember taking the car for a test drive which in reality wasn’t even a real test drive. The salesman instructed me to go around the block… and that’s it! There was no driving on main roads to see the speed or handling of the car. I couldn’t test if I could handle the blind spots or if it had a rough ride. Pathetic. To this day, I still get upset at my mom for not stepping in and helping me out. I brought her to be my second set of eyes and ears and she let me fall into the salesman’s trap. I remember being sold that the car had a backup camera and bluetooth (don’t forget I was coming from a 1993 Toyota Corolla) so I wanted to buy it that day. I’ll skip all the boring stuff and just say I did leave with my car that same day.

I will admit I did have regrets soon after. I had planned out buying my first car to go a certain way and it failed miserably. But now I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. Things always happen for a reason in my opinion. So let me sum everything up in an easy way:

Do’s:

Get a car history report- I was planning on getting a Carfax report since it tells you how many previous owners the car had, the maintenance records, and if it was involved in any accidents. I ended up not getting one which I still regret, luckily my car has had no problems.

Check your credit score- Like I said earlier, dealerships sometimes tell you that your score is lower than it actually is in order for you to pay more on your financing. I got my Fico score, which is your actual score (the three credit bureaus are an estimation and an educational tool).

Bring someone with you- They’ll be your second set of eyes and ears. Anything you miss they should pick up. When your going on impulse they can bring you back to reality. Thanks mom (sarcastic tone)

Get pre approved outside the dealership/Negotiate- Rates are always higher at the dealership, that’s how they make profit. If you bring a pre approved rate they’re forced to beat it so you win either way. STICK TO A BUDGET!!! I learned I should’ve asked for the price to be dropped since the car wasn’t in amazing condition. But the way things work, I ended up getting my car fixed anyways when someone hit it, no money out of my pocket.

Have a mechanic look at the car- This is especially important for used cars. My car happened to be certified used so I felt a little more comfortable not having it looked at (still a mistake). The dealer can say the car works fine but everything is hidden under the hood or literally under the car so you have no idea. This is where the test drive is extremely important!

Try not to buy the car the same day-Go home and think things over. Look at other cars.

I love my car and wouldn’t have it any other way though I learned what to do for my next car buying experience.