You may be throwing thousands out the window by doing this stuff
Pump the brakes on these behaviors.
About 17.5 million cars were sold last year, and Americans are spending more than ever on them. The average cost of a car rises each year, clocking in at $33,560 in 2016, a 2.6% increase from the year before.
The reality is that Americans could be spending way less on their cars — if they simply avoided these major car-buying mistakes.
They take forever to pay back their loans. Cars are getting more expensive, and people are financing for longer terms to compensate. Data released July 3 from car resource website Edmunds showed that the average auto loan length reached 69.3 months in June–an all-time high, and a 6.8% increase from 2012. And the extra interest will could cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars more. What’s more, last month also showed record highs in the total amount financed ($30,954), which means that not only are people stretching out how long they pay interest, they’re also paying interest on a higher amount.
They buy new cars when they haven’t paid off their old cars. According to Edmunds analyst Ivan Drury, 45% of new car sales involve a trade in, and a quarter of those trade-ins have negative equity of around $5000. Dealers often fold the negative equity into the customer’s new car loan, meaning loan terms are stretched even longer, and it takes even more time for customers to reach positive equity on their new vehicles. Each time you roll over debt, your loans will get larger and longer, and you’ll be putting your credit score on the line, and potentially paying thousands more in interest. Hold off on a new purchase until you’re out of the red.
They don’t consider leasing. Many people write off leasing as a bad investment, but depending on your financial situation, and how long you plan on driving your car, there’s a chance it could save you money.
Many people are certainly better off buying: Older, experienced buyers may want one car to run into the ground, Drury says. And the money you’ll make from selling your car should not be discounted. Still, on average the monthly payment on a three-year lease is almost $150 cheaper than that on a six-year loan, according to Consumer Reports, and a customer can expect to pay over $8,000 less on two three-year leases than on a six-year loan. You can use Nerdwallet’s Auto Loan and Auto Lease calculators to figure out which option is cheaper for you.
They get set on one model. It’s common for people to fall in love with their first car and keep buying the same one. But with the number of high-quality models being released throughout each year, experts say, you need to shop around. “When you come back as someone who hasn’t been to the market in a while, you’re going to find that there’s a plethora of great vehicles,” Drury says. “You will be floored at what kind of content is available on a new car.”
For example, Consumer Reports’ top-rated mid-sized SUV was the Hyundai Santa Fe in 2015, the Kia Sorento in 2016, and the Toyota Highlander in 2017–short-term buyers would miss a great car if they’d stuck to one brand in that period.
And make sure you test drive more than one car: Every model has moving parts, from brake sensitivity to visibility, that you won’t get a great sense of online.
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