Article: Car Buyers' Worst Mistakes

Youth & Money

How much money do you think educated car buyers can save over uneducated buyers when buying the same car? Would $5,000 get your attention?


While you may not save as much as $5,000, you'll save a bunch if you avoid these classic car-buying errors.


  1. Showing enthusiasm. If you act too excited, the sellers know they have a unique product you want. The price goes up instantly. Keep that enthusiasm in check until you've driven home.
  2. Buying in a hurry. If you buy on your first visit to a dealership, you don't have time to compare. Take your time. Be willing to walk away. Your negotiating power increases when you move slowly.
  3. Giving deposits before the dealer approves your offer on a vehicle. Feel free to give a deposit, if you really want a vehicle. But don't give it until the boss has said "yes." Remember that if things don't go well, you can't leave if they have your deposit--money, a credit card, a driver's license, or your kids.
  4. Being switched to leasing without doing your homework. Dealerships generally make more if they lease rather than sell. But in most cases leasing is not cheaper than buying. If you want to lease, that's fine. Just know your numbers and don't sign a lease on the spur of the moment.
  5. Trading in your old car without knowing its value in advance. You have a right to get the most your car is worth. To know that value, simply clean it up, and try to sell it to several used car brokers. The highest amount you're offered for it is your car's real value right now. Don't accept less than that in trade.
  6. Financing automatically at the dealership. Financing at the dealerships may or may not be the cheapest place to finance. Contact your credit union for pre-approval before you buy. Knowing what you can really expect will help you shop with confidence.


Big mistakes, big bucks out the window. We like to help you preserve your money--that's what credit unions are all about. Avoid these mistakes, and put that money to work rather than throwing it away. 


Copyright 2010 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.