Whether it’s your first or your 40th new car, here are tips to getting the best deal for your wheels
Buying a new car is an exciting endeavor, even if you’re not a car enthusiast. This is because automobiles are more than just motorized transportation. Over its history, the car has become a symbol of success and mobility that tells the world that you have the cash to splash and can afford to get around without the misery of riding a packed bus or train (despite the traffic all around).
Indeed, with tantalizingly low down-payment promos stuck onto new cars and the length and breadth of this country’s car showrooms, buying a car seems about as easy as buying fruits in a grocery store.
However, buying a car requires much more finesse because getting an overpriced lemon from this supermarket isn’t something you can just toss into the trashcan.
This can be very daunting, especially for first-time car buyers. To help you through the process, Fast Times, along with BPI Family Auto Loan, shows you tips and tricks to getting your dream car.
Know what you need
The operative term here is “need.” A high-riding pick-up truck may make you feel invincible, but if you spend most of your time alone on jam-packed city streets and carry no more than two weeks of groceries in the truck bed, you’re better off with something less difficult to park and cheaper to maintain.
“It is very tempting for many first-time car buyers to go for flashy cars, but they should match their car to their lifestyle,” said BPI Family Auto Loan Brand Manager Jan Montifalcon. “In some cases, buying an entry-level sedan may be better than a high-end sport-utility vehicle.”
To help you decide what cars to focus on, ask yourself these basic questions:
• How will I use it?
• How often will I drive it?
• Where will I go with it?
• How many people will ride in it on a regular basis?
• How much stuff will I carry in it?
Besides giving out car loans, Montifalcon said, BPI Family Auto Loan also provides expert car-buying advice from start to finish. He said the company’s website (www.bpiautoloans.com) includes a virtual car showroom that allows you to look at all the cars in the market, down to the available colors and the number of airbags.
Consult the experts
You’ve finally established the right kind of car for you. In this instance, let’s say you need a five-seater sedan. However, there are more five-seater sedans on sale in the Philippines than you have fingers and toes. So which ones should you go for?
This is where motoring publications come in. Motoring journalists are often the first to report on the latest models in the market. They also have the unique opportunity of testing these cars for several days at a time to better understand what it would be like for you to live with them. Indeed, the award-winning motoring section Fast Times publishes some of the most comprehensive car reviews in the motoring industry. Take time to read about the cars you’re interested in so that you can make a more informed buying decision. Montifalcon said BPI Family Auto Loan’s advisors could also help out by recommending the best models for you.
Shortlist the best models and try them out
After all the studying and comparing, make a list of the cars that best suit your needs and your budget. For instance, you fancy a subcompact (or B-segment) sedan, which includes the likes of Toyota Vios, Hyundai Accent, and even the Volkswagen Polo.
Take time to visit car showrooms to see, feel, and touch these models. But more than that, make sure to go for a test drive to give you an idea of how the car feels on the road. In a sense, you need to be a pseudo-motoring journalist and pay attention to things like:
• How well the engine delivers power
• How comfortable the suspension is
• How easy the controls like the steering wheel, clutch pedal, and gear lever are to use
• How strong the brakes are
• How cool the air-conditioning system is
• How much passenger and trunk space is available
Another important buying tip is to visit multiple showrooms of the same brand. Since these showrooms often compete with each other, one may offer more discounts and freebies over the other. Don’t be afraid to pit them against each other to get the lowest price for a particular model. Montifalcon said BPI Family Auto Loan could also do this by hunting for the dealer that offers the best deal.
Establish how and how much you’ll pay for your new car
At this point, one of the cars in your list really stands out. Now is the time to establish the best payment option for you.
The option most first-time buyers know about is paying the full amount up front, also known as the straight-cash option, which typically follows the narrative of saving up for years and years to finally afford your dream car. One major perk of this is that car dealers will offer massive discounts so that they can get their hands on your cash as quickly as possible. However, this is an option that really needs lots of time, so it’s not for those who want that car and want it now.
If you want your dream ride sooner rather than later, financing might be best for you. This involves paying only a portion of the car’s price up front (the down-payment), then making monthly payments (the amortization) over a period of time, which is typically two to five years. Take note that even though your amortization is lower when you avail of a longer payment plan, you may end up paying too much in interest (the amount added on top of the car’s original price as the cost of making the dealer wait for your money).
Financing can be availed from the dealer (in-house) or from banks. It is recommended that you compare financing plans by asking lenders to make a detailed breakdown of monthly payments. Remember, whoever can give the lowest rates wins.
For bank financing, Montifalcon said, BPI Family Auto Loan’s website not only has a 60-second self-assessment test that helps you find out if you’re ready for an auto loan, but also has an auto-loan calculator that gives you an idea of how much you’ll be paying for that new car.
“BPI offers better if not the best rates in the market,” he said. “With our online tools, people realize that they actually can afford to pay for that new car through financing. On average, we approve a car loan from three to eight hours after all the necessary requirements are submitted.”
Don’t forget the other expenses
Let’s say you’ve settled how you want to pay for your new car and are ready to hand over the money. But wait. Montifalcon said car buyers should also remember the other expenses that come with buying a new car.
“Most people only look at things like the down-payment and the amortization,” he said. “But it’s important for them to remember that buying a car has incidental expenses like the costs of insurance, maintenance, fuel, and even parking. Car buyers need to make sure to account for these on top of the monthly payments of the car.”
So, there. Happy car hunting!