Mistakes people make when shopping for cars

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Car shopping is a stressful thing, and most people say they hate it.

In fact, studies show that people find the whole process stressful and, more often than not, feel like they’ve been taken advantage of by the salespeople at the dealerships.

But the car buying experience doesn’t have to be miserable. We can make it easier on ourselves by avoiding some common car-buying mistakes (including one that will solve the problems you have with the dealership). Here are some big mistakes that too many people make when shopping for a vehicle. Avoid them, and you’ll have an easier time!

They don’t do enough research — about themselves

Everyone knows that they’re supposed to do their research before they start shopping, but the amount of information available on cars for sale can be overwhelming. There are so many different makes and models, and each has its own specs and perks, its own special packages and upgrades, and its own quirks.

How can you possible know all of this stuff?

You can’t — or, at least, you shouldn’t. There’s no need. What you need to do is consider first what you are looking for in a vehicle. Then, when you see vehicles that don’t fit your needs, you can ignore them and focus your research on the vehicles that you’re actually considering.

Most people don’t bother to look at pickup trucks when they need a sedan, of course, but not enough people narrow things down further by establishing their own deal-breakers on issues like fuel mileage and safety features. When you do, you’ll have fewer vehicles to learn about — and more time to focus on each of your options.

And there’s another thing that you should know about yourself. You should know your financial situation. Most car shoppers know that they should have their budget worked out in advance, but not enough know that they should also check up on their credit, arrange their financing, and get their whole financial house in order ahead of time.

They go to the dealership, and only to the dealership

Studies show that people particularly hate the dealership experience. It’s not hard to see why: dealership salespeople work on commission and can be very pushy as they try to get you to buy.

Dealership prices are opaque, sales seem arbitrary, and negotiating is, well, non-negotiable, unless you want to pay the (inflated) sticker price. Unless you’re a very specific sort of person, going to the dealership is not going to be a pleasant experience.

But you don’t have to go to the dealership. You can shop for cars online, and studies show that people find doing so to be a far more pleasant experience. When you shop online, you can take your time and do your research as you shop — you won’t be put on the spot by a pushy dealer. You’ll have all kinds of resources at your fingertips, making it easy to check the history of used vehicles or compare prices on new and used models.

You can still head to the dealership to test-drive cars and get a sense of what’s available, but you don’t have to buy your car there, or spend any more time there than you want to.

They don’t consider auctions

Like negotiating, auctions can seem stressful to some buyers. But thanks to online car auctions, you don’t actually have to shout your bids at a fast-talking auctioneer in order to land your dream car at a lower price. You can just go and bid on potential rides in the same way that you would bid on something on Ebay. Easy, right?

Most auction sites have buy-it-now options, too, so you don’t necessarily have to choose. But you should consider all of your options, from the in-person experience to the online auction. You’ll have more cars to choose from that way, and you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want at the right price.