Buying a Car? 5 Questions to ask
Ok, so you want to buy a car – it’s a serious decision that could come back to haunt you if you haven’t asked yourselves the right questions before making it. Most people decide on a car based on a brand they like or the budget they have instead of selecting the right car that will suit their purpose and purse. Do you know the what, where, why, how of buying a car? Here is our guide to questions you must ask and answer before buying a car:
What kind of car?
Cars come in many sizes and shapes and before selecting one, you must first understand why you need the car and choose an appropriate model for it. If you will primarily use your car to drive within the city, and if you are a nuclear family, a hatchback or a compact sedan will be sufficient since they are easy to handle and easy to park in congested city traffic. On the other hand, if you have an extended family or you drive long distances on a regular basis, you might want to consider a more spacious MPV or a sturdy SUV. Read here for more details on how to select the right kind of car.
What variants/options do I need in the car?
Most cars offer several variants in each model – Petrol/Diesel and Manual/Automatic transmission being the ones to bear serious consideration. Diesel is cheaper than petrol but Diesel cars are more expensive at the time of buying the car. Maintenance cost is also higher and insurance will be costlier too owing to the higher price of the vehicle. It takes roughly about 4 years, given the current differential in petrol and diesel prices for an individual to break even with the Diesel variant. So, if the plan is to hold on to the car for a long period of time, Diesel will be worthwhile but if you are planning to trade your car every 2-3 years, petrol variant might be the more viable choice. However, if you are planning long trips with the car, then the fuel cost savings will be considerable to favour the Diesel variant.
Read our blog on Manual Vs Automatic transmission cars to decide which will be the best option for you.
New or Used Car?
The advantages of buying a new car are plenty – manufacturer’s warranty, smell of new leather (if you like that), mint condition are among those. But buying a second hand car has one great advantage – Cost. Did you know that your car depreciates in value by almost 10-15% as soon as you drive a new car off the dealership? By the end of one year, the car would have lost almost 20% of its value by depreciation. The rate of depreciation is slower for every subsequent year but by 5 years, the carâ€™s value drops by over 60%. Read our blog post on depreciation here.
If you or your company do not benefit by declaring depreciation on a balance sheet, the cost advantage of buying a used-car makes it a better choice. Buying a second hand car from a trusted source limits the risk of buying a lemon. Getting a used car that is only 2-3 years old will save you depreciation while still being in good condition.
This is a tricky question – which brand of car do you choose, based on your answers to the first 3 questions? If one leaves the image and status value of brands aside and only focus on the merits of the car itself, it is an easier task to pick the right brand.
The first criteria would be your budget. If you have decided to buy a sedan, you could buy a Maruti Swift D’zire for Rs 6 lakhs or a Toyota Camry for Rs 30 lakhs. So set your budget and then look for choices in that range.
Next would be to see which brand, among your price range, offers the best service in your area. Availability of service and spare parts must be a consideration since these have a bearing on the maintenance of the car.
Where do I buy the car?
If you are buying a new car, the choice is easier – go to the authorised dealership of the brand of your choice and book the car. Here too, make sure that the dealership offers good financing plans, insurance and will complete the paperwork associated with all of this in a clean and swift manner.
If you are thinking of a second hand car, then make sure you buy it from a trusted source.
Used-car dealers come in all forms so be sure you pick ones that are reputed and trust-worthy. Fly by night operators may offer big discounts but they could be window dressing lemons. Look for dealerships that have been operating for a long time and offer you good options in insurance and financing.
Cars listed online are not always what they claim to be and do not offer any add-on service like arranging finance or insurance. All the paper work is also your own responsibility, which can be time consuming.