Mistakes are pretty popular these days. While humans have been messing up since the beginning of time, they have only recently begun to get positive credit for their screw-ups. Now more than ever, failure is being seen and discussed in a positive light. But, mistakes are still mistakes, and even when they learn from them, they can cause us temporary setback and pain. When it comes to buying a new car, people tend to make lots of mistakes and over the last several decades in the car dealership business, we’ve seen them all. While we’re sure you’d learn from repeating those mistakes, we’d rather share them with you so that you can gain something positive from the failures of other people. The next time you’re purchasing a vehicle, take special care to avoid these four common mistakes:

Mistake # 1: Blindly walking onto a dealership lot.

Drive around on any given Saturday and you’re sure to find plenty of brightly colored balloons and inflatable gorillas beckoning you to browse a new or used car lot. Stepping foot onto the first lot you see, however, is usually a big mistake. It forces you to skip over the important independent research phase of the car-buying process and puts you at risk of an encounter with an aggressive, persuasive salesperson. Instead, you should take your time comparing options and finding a car dealership that you can trust. Taking the extra time will also give you a better idea of what kind of car you’re looking for and what price range you’re probably looking at.

Mistake # 2: Letting emotion win over reason. 

There’s no doubt about it—buying a car is an emotional decision. Surrounded by shiny, colorful cars on sleek showroom floors, many buyers get carried away in the excitement of it all. But buying a car purely on amped up emotion can lead to poor purchasing decisions with bad financial and functional consequences. While it’s okay to buy an exciting car that you love, don’t forget that cars mostly serve a functional purpose: transportation. Before finalizing the purchase of any car, be sure that it also fulfills your functional needs. By allowing your emotions to be balanced by rational reason, you’re sure to make a better purchase decision that you’ll be happy with for a long time to come.

Mistake # 3: Making the wrong choice between new, used, and leased. 

Finding the perfect car is only half the battle when it comes to making a vehicle purchase. You’ll also need to decide if you want to buy it new or used. For some buyers, leasing represents a third viable option. And, while there is no universally right answer, one of these options is likely better than the others for your specific circumstances. Avoid rushing into the decision and ask yourself important questions. How long do you intend to keep the car? How much will you drive the car? What is your budget? By formulating thoughtful answers to these questions, you’ll be better prepared to decide which option is right for you.

Mistake # 4: Undervaluing in-person research.

In today’s world of online research, buyers can read reviews, peruse spec sheets, and watch videos about any car in the world. As a result, many buyers walk onto car dealership lots knowing exactly what they want, having never experienced the car in person. While preliminary research is extremely important, it’s not a substitute for in-person inspection, experience, and research. Smart buyers will complement their personal learning with a thorough test drive and an in-depth exploration of a car’s features. Skipping these more experiential steps can lead to buyer’s remorse when hasty car buyers discover previously unknown features, quirks, or problems.

Today, mistakes seem to be as popular as they’ve ever been. More than ever, we understand the value of failure for the opportunities it provides to learn and grow. But, when it comes to buying a new or used car, you can learn from other people’s mistakes just as easily as you can learn from your own. By avoiding these four common pitfalls, you can learn from the past and get the car you’ve always wanted.

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