Without further ado, here’s the blueprint you’ve been waiting for. 10 do’s and don'ts of buying a used car in Jacksonville, FL.

Everybody knows that buying a car these days is tough.  Car shopping day is not going to be filled with rainbows and sunshine. Bring your anti anxiety remedy of choice, because you will surely face a fair deal of stress and anxiety.  It DOESN’T have to be this way though.  Buying a car is like going to the dentist, you know it’s going to be painful. Sometimes you wish you could just pass out and take a nap to make it go away. 

What if there was a way to take care of your teeth from the very beginning and you never had to go to the dentist in the first place.  If you had a car buying road map from the very beginning, you’d never have to struggle through the car buying process again.

For the easy car buying roadmap just follow these easy steps:


#1: Don’t leave your house until you’ve done extensive research

It might be tempting to just get in your car & drive around to a few different lots, but that’s usually not the best idea.  He who fails to prepare is preparing to fail.  The more prepared you are, the better your chances are of getting a good deal on a car you love! The good news is that it’s 2018, and the internet gives smart shoppers a huge advantage in the marketplace.  Check out cargurus, cars.com, autotrader to look at inventory and find the best deals.  Head to kbb.com or edmunds.com to find independent reviews of all the types of vehicles you’re interested in. 


#2: Don’t buy a car without looking at the carfax and past service history

Checking out the carfax can be one of the most important things you do before signing on the dotted line.  The carfax will give the most accurate detail of how the vehicle has been maintained, and to make sure the vehicle hasn’t been in an accident.  You’re going to want to pay attention to the number of previous owners and see how each of these owners took care of the vehicle while it was in their possession.  You never know if one owner took great care of the car but the next owner didn’t take as good of care.  You can also look at the existing warranty information to see if the vehicle is still under manufacturer warranty.


#3: Do your finance homework

Before filling out any dealership credit apps, you need to know where you stand with your personal credit and how you will be viewed by a bank or finance company.  You can get a good start by visiting creditkarma.com. This will give you a pretty good idea of where your credit stands and what you should expect when the dealership hits you with an interest rate.  You should also know that one of the most important factors to getting financed is your disposable income.  A bank is going to take a close look at your monthly income and how much you have left over after paying rent and other expenses.  This is going to determine what kind of monthly payment you can get approved for & how expensive of a vehicle you can get.


#4: Do a thorough inspection of the vehicle. If you can, get it inspected by a certified mechanic

This one might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t perform a bullet-proof inspection before they drive off with the car for good.  After a day of car shopping; your tired, your feet hurt, you just want to pick out a car and get out of there.  That’s how mistakes happen. You want to make sure that you are absolutely satisfied with the vehicle.  That means you should drive it on the highway, check the tires, check the alignment, check service lights on the dashboard, check for rust, check for spare tire, make sure the A/C and windows work properly.  It is also highly recommended that you take the car to an independent certified mechanic. They will be able to test the car using a professional mechanic computer, and let you know if there are any issues with the working parts under the hood.


#5: Work the math before you sign on the dotted line

When you have a big stack of paperwork sitting in front of you - it can be tempting to sign wherever they tell you and get it over with, but you are going to want to take an extra close look at the bill of sale and the bank contract.  These two documents are going to tell you exactly where you are going to have to come out of pocket for the lifetime of the loan.  Be sure to calculate finance charges over time, so you know exactly what you are paying for the car including interest.  Make sure you are comfortable with that level of interest over time, as well as accounting for your monthly budget to make sure your car payment and insurance will be paid with no problem. 


#6: Don’t be afraid to get what you want in a car deal

Don’t forget that it’s a car DEAL: a mutual transaction that both parties have agreed to.  You have to know what you are bringing to the table as a paying customer and know how valuable your business is to a dealership.  When it comes down to negotiating and haggling, a salesperson will usually have the advantage because they do it for a living.  They’ve got tricks, they’ve got tactics, and they are going to do whatever they can to get paid that week.  The best thing you can do is stand up for yourself.  Stand up for what you want.  Tell them up front what you’re going to go for and what you will not accept.  They will most likely appreciate this honesty and work harder for you. 



#7: Don’t be unreasonable and understand the dealerships POV

This might sound like a contradiction to the last tip, but there’s a fine line between being fair and being unreasonable.  When it comes time to negotiate, you have to know whether you are fighting a losing battle or not.  Take a look at the book value of the car.  Your offer should not fall too far below NADA retail, or you’ve crossed over into the unreasonable customer zone.  You can’t expect a dealership to lose money selling you a car.  Often times, the dealership has their hands tied.  Maybe the bank has approved you for a certain amount, and there’s nothing the dealership can do.  This especially true if your credit doesn’t give any legs to stand on.


#8: Be patient

“Who has time to be patient these days, let’s just pick out a car and get this over with!”  Bad idea.  Buying a car is one of the biggest investments you make, behind buying a home.  It’s not something to be rushed.  You want to do extra careful research, making sure you’ve selected the right car/s you want and the dealerships you’re going to visit.  Take your time when discussing your credit and the financing terms, not only to save money but also so that you ensure you’re making this decision with building your credit in mind.  We all know somebody who has had a nightmare car buying experience, DON’T LET THIS BE YOU.  Take your time, know all your options and you’ll be fine. 


#9: Know the differences between independent lot and a franchise store.

Not every dealership is the same.  A franchise store is obviously going to sell brand new cars as well as used.  They usually have a full service shop, fancy attractive buildings and many other amenities, like a coffee bar in the dealership.  While it might be convenient to get a taste of your favorite caramel macchiato while your signing paperwork, it might also be affecting your bottom line.  The expensive buildings and professional sales teams cost money, and that's often why you’ll usually pay more money for the same used car at an independent lot.  Independent car lots are usually going to have a smaller selection of inventory.  While many independent lots are very professional, many of them are not going to be able to offer as many professional features and benefits. This includes: banks they work with, gap/warranty options, manufacturer backed servicing; be sure to check out the google reviews before you step foot onto any dealership.


#10: Don’t think you’re all done after you drive off

The world of automotive finance can get very complicated. After driving off with your car, there is a period of time where the deal still needs to be verified by the bank, which could be across the country.  Things happens.  Things get delayed. Banks change their policies.  Dealers mess up an application.  Stipulations don’t meet the requirements.  Often times, there are obligations you need to fulfill after you drive off.  This might include: customer interviews, interviews with your employer, obtaining proof of residence or proof of income, providing references.  By cooperating with the dealership and/or bank’s obligations, you are ensuring that your loan will be kept valid during the 1 to 4 week period the bank has to complete your deal.  That’s how you avoid a car buying nightmare like this one: You get financed for a car based on your 1 year job time.  The bank is counting on your stability of income (keeping that job) so that you can make your payments.  Let’s say you quit your job the day after you bought the car.  The bank is going to follow up your employer at some time during the 1 to 4 weeks after you bought the car.  Once they find out that you quit your job, the deal will most likely be canceled.  The dealership will have to repossess your car and you might lose your down payment.  Make sure you are careful and cooperative with anything the dealer and/or bank ask of you, because you DON’T want those kind of problems. So do yourself a favor, if you’re itching to switch employers, just wait it out about 30 days more to ensure that the deal gets completed.


#11: Do come to Dream Wheels and purchase a car

We are an independent lot that offers the best of both worlds.  We usually have a huge selection of like-new inventory.  We keep our expenses rock bottom low, so that we can save our customers money. We always keep our sales process honest and respectable. We have access to the same banking options as the big dealers as well as many options for challenged credit customers. 

Call or text us at: 904-990-4029!