BBB offers tips on buying your first car


RALEIGH — Buying your first car can be exciting, but students who are first-time buyers may not be aware of scammers causing roadblocks and detours. From selling stolen cars to odometer rollback scams, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is cautioning students about the sometimes not-so-smooth road to freedom.

“In 2018, BBB received over 38,000 complaints nationwide against new and used car dealers,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “When buying your first car, it is important to take your time and do your research to find the best vehicle for your needs.”

Avoid roadblocks and detours with these BBB car-buying tips:

  • Determine your needs. Buying a vehicle, whether new or used, is a major investment. Will you need a full size car, mini-van, pickup, intermediate, compact, or a sub-compact? Be realistic with your budget and plan for additional costs such as maintenance, detailing or snow tires.
  • Start your search with trust. Before you head out to buy your car, do your homework. You can start with BBB to find trustworthy car dealerships and sellers. There are also many online resources to check average retail prices of different makes and models of used cars depending on the year they came out and the number of miles they were driven. Keep these prices in mind as you shop and negotiate.
  • Compare features. Consider the safety features, fuel economy, operating and maintenance costs and storage space. Also consider theft rates with different vehicle models.
  • Check reports. Pull a vehicle history report. The report will tell you if a vehicle has been in a collision, stolen or has any liens against it. Liens are any outstanding money owed for purchase or repairs.
  • Always test-drive the vehicle. No matter how good a vehicle looks or sounds, you can never be sure how it behaves on the road unless you take it for a spin. Remember to examine all features to ensure they are working properly.
  • Know the different kinds of warranties. A full warranty will repair or replace any part of the car itself during the specified warranty period. A limited warranty, just as the name implies, does not cover all parts but usually covers the most expensive components. Keep in mind that you have responsibilities under the warranty too, such as having the car serviced and inspected at specified times, and using recommended products.
  • Figure out the financing. If you have to finance your vehicle, there are a few ways you can do it. You can get a direct loan from your bank or a dealer’s loan from the car dealership. Be sure to compare interest rates before deciding on your financing option. Remember, the better your credit is, the better your chances of loan approval.
  • Don’t just drive off the lot when picking up your car. Be sure to inspect the vehicle before driving away. Make sure there is no damage and that all of the features are working properly. Take it for a short test drive to ensure it is performing to your satisfaction. Ask the dealer for a signed service form and to sign and date all applicable warranties.
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