If you are not familiar with Star Trek, the character Spock is a member of an alien race from the planet Vulcan. Vulcans show no emotion and make all decisions based on logic alone.
When it comes to buying cars we humans don’t use a lot of logic in the process. Car buying is extremely emotional. Logic gets thrown out the door. But with just a few simple logical decisions you can save big, big money on your next car purchase.
I am Spock
I’ve had a lot of nicknames over my lifetime.
When I was in elementary school our landlord and his family called me Ernie because I wore an Ernie shirt (from Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street) all the time.
In high school, I was tagged with The Rock because it was hard to move me on the basketball court.
In college, I showed up at my fraternity looking like a sheep herder from the Swiss Alps and became forever known as Gunther.
In my first business, my partners and I would have heated debates where I would throw out facts, figures, and statistics to slice through the emotions. I was called Spock for the next five years.
New car fever
Most people who get the idea that they want – (not need) – want a new car – will buy one within 72 hours.
It’s called new car fever. It’s the exact opposite of buying a car that you might need and using sound logic for selecting your next vehicle.
- I want that one!!!
- I don’t care how much it costs!!!
- But the red one is only $500 more!!!
- It’s only an extra $25 a month!!!
- The miles-per-gallon may be half as much as this other one, so we just won’t drive it on the weekends!
Have you had the fever?
Yes, logic gets thrown out the door. I know this personally. As logical as I am, I’ve thrown it out the door to some extent on almost every vehicle I’ve purchased.
I bet you have too, right?
Of course we all have!
If society used logic to buy vehicles, there would only be one manufacturer that built four different vehicles – one car, one truck, one van, and one mini-van. They would all be silver because that’s the best color for a car (in my opinion anyway).
What’s the logical way to purchase a car?
What would Mr. Spock do when buying a new car? There are several steps you can take to minimize new car fever and overpaying for a car.
1. There is no money in the 24th century – what can you afford?
I’m a big proponent of paying cash for cars and not taking out an auto loan. I’ve had auto loans, and they were some of the worst financial decisions I’ve ever made. You’ll never get rich by taking out car loans and having a car payment the rest of your life.
I realize not everyone is going to listen to that advice though. Let’s break down your choices:
- You’ve saved up and will buy your next car in cash.
- You’re going to finance your next car
Make sure the monthly payment won’t leave you living paycheck-to-paycheck.
1B. A better car loan
If you’re financing (don’t do it!), get pre-approved for a loan at a credit union to get the best rates.
By financing at a car dealer you’re going to pay the HIGHEST interest rate you possibly could. You’ll be wasting hundreds to thousands of dollars over the life of your auto loan.
2. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – determine your needs vs. your wants
Get a general idea of your auto needs based on your driving habits, career and family size.
- Long commute – you need better mileage
- Five kids – you need three rows of seats
- Construction worker – you need a truck with a big bed
- Realtor – something professional
Make a list of your must-haves and you’re nice-to-haves. By sticking with just your must-haves you can find a car that costs less.
Do I really need side view mirrors that defrost?
3. Insufficient facts always invite danger – do your research online
First, don’t step onto a car lot before doing your research.
80% of people that go to a car dealer end up buying something when they didn’t intend to in the first place.
They get caught up in the emotion of the moment.
- It’s such a great deal!
- I need this new car!
- It gets better mileage than my current car – I’ll save $100.00 over the next three years alone in gas money!
- It smells so good!
- My old car is about to fall apart – I can feel it!
No, no, no, no, and no. Well it does smell good, So no, no, no, yes, and no.
Online shopping for cars is the great equalizer
You don’t stand a chance against a seasoned salesperson at the car lot who spends every day honing their sales skills with one goal in mind – getting you to drive off the lot in a new car at the highest cost possible.
When you shop online and compare prices, you take the salespersons’ advantage away. You even the playing field. There are no high-pressure sales tactics when you’re surfing the Internet at your desk or sitting on the couch watching CSI.
5. Take us out of space dock Mr. Sulu – Let’s go for a test drive!
Once your financial house is in order, and you’ve found what you wanted at a price you can afford, let the fun begin! Go for a test drive.
If it’s a good deal, see how the car drives and feels. Don’t ignore the little things.
Drive long and prosper
You’ve now taken as much emotion out of the decision-making process as you possibly can.
By taking the time to figure out what you need for a car, how much you can afford, how you’re going to pay for it, and researching the available options before you head to the car dealership, you’re in position to get a car you will enjoy and one that will keep more money in your wallet.