Though it's one of the biggest financial decisions you will make, buying a new car is a remarkably confusing process. Jalopnik readers know the most important questions you can ask to cut through crap at the dealership.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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Photo Credit: Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock
10.) What is the term (length) of the loan and what is my interest rate?
Suggested By: 900turbo
What it explains: While we strongly support getting your own independent financing, if you do dealer financing, you need to know the terms of the deal. Generally, interest is a hassle and the closer you can get to paying in full, the better.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks
9.) Has the car been used as a demo?
Suggested By: Bryce Proseus
What it explains: So you're dying to get your hands on that Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-spec, but first ask if someone else has been using it. Then ask to meet that person, because there is always the chance that one of the salesmen has been doing brakestands out back, just as Bryce Proseus has seen with his own eyes.
Photo Credit: Steve Jin
8.) Where is the nearest dealer / authorized repair centre to my house?
Suggested By: Bangarang
What it explains: It's one thing to buy a car; it's another thing to own and maintain one. Even if you find a great deal on that Subaru of your dreams a six hour drive away, if there's nowhere that can service it nearby, you'll likely want to go for a different car.
Photo Credit: Scott Schrantz
7.) What "mandatory" fees will I have to pay?
Suggested By: JSWilson64_g
What it explains: Dealerships can often have associated fees or already-fitted options to their cars that you wouldn't know about until you asked. What is this leather seal, or this advertising charge? What, exactly, am I going to be paying for?
Photo Credit: Chris Zielecki
6.) Does this car make me happy?
Suggested By: PanchoVilleneuve
What it explains: Buying a new car is an emotional decision, and under the cold light of strict reason, your purchase is going to look like a waste of money. While perhaps you should be buying the simplest, cheapest, most fuel efficient and reliable car available, you're often buying on looks and the seats and how the car makes you feel.
So you have to ask yourself if the car really does make you happy, because if you're making undue compromises, your car just won't make sense.
Photo Credit: Sam Schaeffer
5.) "Is that the best you can do?"
Suggested By: McMike
What it explains: When you're in the price negotiations, this question tells the salesperson that you're ready to walk away and go to the next dealer on the other side of town to get a better deal.
Be prepared to walk away. It will be better for you in getting a fair price.
Photo Credit: Clay Larsen
4.) Can I have a test drive?
Suggested By: LuckyChuck
What it explains: Don't take a car reviewer's word for it. Get inside, see if the seats are comfortable, figure out if your kids can all squeeze in the back seat, find out how well it can turn around on a street, etc.
Photo Credit: Carol Browne
3.) Has the car been damaged?
Suggested By: Leadhead
What it explains: Even though this is a new car, it's come a long way from the factory to get to the dealer lot. Shipping cars can lead to lots of dings and scrapes, which shipping companies will try and literally cover up. Look for any place that's been re-sprayed and ask about damages.
Photo Credit: AP (the Cougar Ace, a tipped-over car transport ship is shown)
2.) What's the warranty coverage? Are there any perks like free maintenance?
Suggested By: teampenske3
What it explains: The warranty will be one of the most important things to get cleared up. One of the biggest businesses with cars is in the aftermarket, repairing and maintaining vehicles, so you want as much information on your warranty as possible. You need to know what you will and won't be paying for, as there's a lot of money the dealership stands to make off of you.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk
1.) How much is the car after fees and licensing?
Suggested By: SennaMP4
What it explains: This question gets you away from talking about monthly payments and focuses you on the actual cost of the car. It's easy for a salesman to draw you in to a significantly more expensive purchase by just adding small amounts onto your monthly payments, so stay fixed on the big picture.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk