Automotive Industry Gotchas. Buying a Good New Car Without Getting Screwed

I’ve seen it one too many times: people purchase a new car and, as if on cue, problems which would have otherwise been easy to avoid start pouring. I thought it might be helpful to at least some of you if I shared the experiences and frustrations gathered over the years from acquaintances who went through the often long and painful process of choosing a new car. When you start looking for options, it is paramount to know exactly what you want and need. Nearly everybody might love to have a Lambo in their garage but, besides image, marketing and social status, the car you buy with your hard earned cash must accommodate specific needs and meet several criteria. Each of these depend on the individual and range from the price to equipment levels, safety ratings, how recent (or not) the model is, how much you want to have it, whether it is worth it or not, whether or not you can afford the maintenance costs, and so on. The car you purchase must rise to your expectations, be as close as possible to what you really want and, last but not least, must never be a compromise. Well, at least not a big one, because you’ll soon see there’s no ideal automobile and choice is always marred by compromise one way or the other. How old is the model?
Auto manufacturers try to keep new model release dates a secret way too often. However, this kind of info is readily available in the press (online or offline), so make sure you keep an eye out for interesting stories on the subject. Massive discounts always ensue 6 months before a model is discontinued and around the same time comes the call from your favorite dealer, announcing a fantastic deal for the car you wanted one or two years ago, now 20% to 40% cheaper.

They’ll explain how this is a “very special promo” and an unmissable opportunity to get your much desired car at an incredible price. Problem is, while getting a pair of slacks at a discount makes some sense, buying a car that’s soon going to be discontinued and replaced with one that is simply better (tech-wise, safety-wise and so on), is not the smartest thing to do. Mark my words, as soon as you see the new model, you’ll be haunted by regret for not being more patient.

Furthermore, whatever you gain from buying at a lower price is instantly lost in terms of resell value, where the new model will be king and only bargain hunters will even look at discontinued models.

When buying a car, and I mean any car, always get yourself up to speed on the model’s age and “lifetime” as well as the successor’s release date, if any. Try to focus on new models and avoid wasting your money on cars that are close to drawing their last breath. Only buy such a vehicle if you’re on a really tight budget, you don’t plan to change for a long, long time and you’re fine with seeing the new and certainly much improved model around the streets.

Typically, the lifecycle of a car is about 8-10 years, with a facelift after the first 4-5 years. Manufacturers from Asia sometimes work with a 5 year lifecycle, often without a facelift.

The facelifted car is always the better one. Any issues found with the original model will have been fixed, along with general improvements and more attractive design lines. It’s safe to assume that a model reaches a “trustable” status once it gets a facelift.
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