Now that the COVID-19 lockdowns are starting to wind down, a lot of car manufacturers are giving customers better incentives than ever to buy a new car. Make sure you truly get the best deal on your dream car by following your Southern California lemon law attorney’s top five tips for purchasing a new car.
1. Do your research on the car(s) you’re considering
Before stepping foot at a dealership, take advantage of the helpful information the internet can provide (thank you Google!). Knowing current incentives and offers (and taking screenshots of them just in case) can be a huge help when you’re negotiating with the dealership but don’t stop your research there. Take it a step further and check out National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website (www.nhtsa.gov) to see what recalls are active, if any investigations are going on, and common complaints from other owners. If there’s a huge safety recall with a part that’s backordered currently active on the car you want, that information might make you think twice. A lot of cars have customer forums as well where you can get the inside, unfiltered scoop on other owners’ experiences with the car you’re thinking of buying.
Pro tip- check out the previous two model years on nhtsa.gov to see if there’s a common problem in the model vehicle you’re looking into purchasing. There usually isn’t too much information on current model years but looking into the recent past can be very helpful!
2. Understand what kind of warranty the manufacturer provides
A car purchase is a big deal and often times it’s a huge investment you’re making for yourself or your family for the long run. Make sure you understand what types of warranties your manufacturer offers, specifically the basic and powertrain warranties. Those warranties are what will protect you if you end up with a lemon.
Pro tip- Make sure you understand what can void those warranties like not keeping up with regularly scheduled maintenance appointments.
3. Research the extras
Dealerships are notorious for selling you everything under the sun and convincing you that you absolutely need X, Y, and Z. Decide ahead of time what types of extras, if any, you’re truly interested in. Common extras are service contracts (also known as extended warranties), GAP insurance, surface protection products, and theft deterrent devices. Most of the time these extras are completely unnecessary at the time of purchase. For example, service contracts typically don’t go into effect until after your manufacturer’s warranty expires. Understanding what you’re spending your money on and when you’ll actually be able to use something is incredibly powerful information to have when negotiating at the dealership.
Pro tip- Aftermarket additions like extended warranties, theft deterrent devices, window tinting, etc. are not reimbursable if you end up with a lemon. Make sure it’s really the car of your dreams and not a lemon before buying all those fancy extras!
4. Always test drive the car you’re buying
You’re about to spend thousands of dollars on a new car, so why not make sure the car you’re going to buy is worth your hard earned money? Most purchase contracts don’t include a cooling off period (at least not a free one!) so once you sign on that dotted line, that car is yours. Imagine buying a car that looked absolutely perfect but on the ride home you notice an awful noise or you think the drivability could be much smoother but it’s too late, you signed the paperwork. Even brand new cars can be lemons so put yourself in the best position to protect yourself by doing your due diligence before signing anything.
5. Don’t rush
Take your time. Do your research. Ask thoughtful questions. Choose a day you’re free to go car shopping. Bring a friend or family member for a second opinion. I’ve heard so many clients complain that they had to go to the dealership after hours and signed a contract they couldn’t fully read because it was dark or that they couldn’t fully inspect the car they were buying because it was dark. You do not have a gun to your head. You do not have to agree to everything they’re trying to sell you. You do not have to purchase the car on your first trip to the dealership. You do not have to sign anything without reading it first.
Trust me, I know how uncomfortable it can be sitting in a room where you’re handed a huge stack of papers and the finance manager is handing you page after page saying, “Sign here…Now sign here..” when you couldn’t possibly have read that entire page in the 5 seconds you’ve had it in front of you. You’re about to pay them thousands of dollars so the least they can do is be patient, allow you to read what you’re signing, and answer any questions you may have about any of those documents they want you to sign. If they’re not willing to give you that courtesy, maybe you don’t want to do business with them in the first place.
Want more information? Schedule a free consultation with an Orange County lemon law attorney today!