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Avoiding the Hassle – At All Costs

More than a full century since cars became affordable to the working class and available via a network of franchised dealers, a significant percentage of car buyers remain repelled by the perceived difficulty of buying a new or pre-owned vehicle. With today’s available resources (including this site) there’s no reason for it to be difficult, even for those buyers completely new to the process – or those so familiar with car buying they hold nothing but contempt for the process. With all of that, each passing day brings new information and perspective to the consumer, along with a new era of relative enlightenment (believe it or not) in the automotive industry. Here, then, are recommended steps in making your next automotive purchase as painless as possible.
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Know What You Want

This may seem obvious, but within the wide-ranging selection of automotive brands, vehicle types and – not incidentally – vehicle costs, the available choices can be dizzying. Given the variables, and aiming for the (relatively) painless purchase process, it’s important to know what you want or, at the very least, narrow your choices. And those choices should include a self-evaluation of your actual needs and wants, an accurate – perhaps via a third party, such as a loan officer – look at what you can afford, and a critical analysis of what’s available within your budget. Ideally you will select a vehicle type (car, truck or SUV) within your price range, and two or three preferred brands or models within that vehicle type. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to peruse independent reviews of your chosen vehicles, including – but not necessarily limited to – Consumer Reports, assorted ‘buff books’ and (again) this website. It’s also valid to ask a friend or associate that owns your preferred model to provide you with feedback on its purchase and (of course) his or her long-term satisfaction.
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Identify A Dealership To Do Business With

Even with vastly improved quality and reliability, you still need the occasional dealer visit for service and repairs, especially during your vehicle’s warranty period. To that end, consider convenient dealership access in your purchase deliberations. A convenient dealer may be one closer to your work, closer to your home or something between the two, but for best results consider a dealer located within your routine, and not one – unless no other choices are available – well removed from those communities you live in, work in or are engaged with.
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Build Your Own

You still haven’t taken a demo drive, and driving before you buy remains one of the basic tenets of car buying, but the best place to select what you want to buy is online, using the ‘Build Your Own’ tool, available from most manufacturer websites and navigable through Autoblog’s Year/Make/Model pages (pictured: Audi A4). Once you’ve selected the model, trim level, colors, options and accessories, most sites will also supply a loan calculator (as does Autoblog) to help in determining if your choice – or choices – is/are available and affordable. Print out the build sheet and also store it digitally, as you’ll want to share it with prospective dealers when soliciting a bid.
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Once Your Selection Is Made, Put Your Purchase Out For Bids

At this point, virtually every dealer has an online center in response to those not wanting to endure and/or suffer the back-and-forth (typically) necessary in a showroom negotiation. Autoblog provides two variations of an online purchase via the Smart Buy and Get-A-Quote processes. The first is a true ‘no hassle’ quote, while the second represents a purchase range, allowing some fine tuning between you and the seller. And we’d add this: If, in taking a demo drive or drives at the dealership (which is the only way to obtain that drive, short of a rental), know you’ve taken the time of a sales representative working – in most instances – on a straight commission. So if going the online, get-a-bid route, make one of your solicitations for that bid to the dealership where you obtained the demo, and indicate clearly the name of the rep you’ve dealt with.
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