For many of us, the dream of buying a vehicle is second only to home ownership. A vehicle represents freedom, convenience and comfort – you can drive to anywhere we want and you no longer have to race to catch the bus (and then stand for the duration of your journey because it is overcrowded). However, owning a vehicle is a big responsibility and a major financial undertaking. This Tip Thursday, we give you some advice to help you with the buying process:
- Check your finances. Before you go shopping, ensure you are able to afford a vehicle in the first place. This is especially important if you are relying on a bank loan. Knowing how much you can afford to spend will help you get a clearer picture of the type of vehicle you will buy. When you are ready to take the plunge, get a letter of undertaking from your bank or financial institution to take with you as you shop.
- Do your research. This is a vital step in the process. Once you have figured out how much money you have available and what you can realistically afford, the next step is to find out as much as you can about the potential purchase. Some factors to consider are: your lifestyle – if you need to transport other people on a daily basis, a two-door car would not be suitable; your commute – both the length of the drive and the terrain you have to traverse daily; fuel economy – prices are constantly rising and it won’t benefit you to buy a gas guzzler; and the availability of parts – you don’t want to have to wait weeks for spare parts to be imported. If you are buying a used vehicle, it is advised that you do not purchase anything more than seven years old. Also, read performance reviews and road test reports and get testimonials from other drivers who have the same and comparable vehicles.
- Shop around. See what various dealers have on offer within your price range and/or consult with different drivers who are selling their vehicles directly. It might be tempting to buy the first thing you see that fits your budget and goals, but it’s never wise to make an impulsive purchase. Take your time to locate the right deal.
- Do a thorough check. When you have found the vehicle you want to purchase, inspect it carefully. It is also advised that you take a mechanic with you, whether the vehicle is new or used and whether you are buying from a dealer or the owner – even if you know the person well. Also, do a test drive in order to ensure that the vehicle works well and fits your needs.
- Negotiate the best deal. The vehicle checks out alright and the test drive was as smooth as can be, so you are excited to make your purchase and drive off into the proverbial sunset. However, don’t get so excited that you instantly pay the asking price. Don’t be afraid to haggle and, if the seller is unreasonable, walk away – you can almost certainly find a better deal elsewhere.
- After the purchase. Congratulations! You are now a proud vehicle owner. Along with the pride of ownership comes responsibilities and costs, such as maintenance, insurance payments and, of course, fuel. If you are the second or third owner, be prepared to spend some money on immediate servicing as well.
Once you consider all these factors, you will see why making a smart buy now can help you save in the future.
For information on registering and licensing your new purchase, please refer to the Jamaica Tax Administration’s Motor Vehicle & Driver’s License FAQ page.