Topics:Car Loans 101 Car Shopping Tips Co-Signing Downpayment GAP Pre-Approval Car Loans and Credit Teen Drivers
Driving has become a rite of passage in American culture. Many teens anxiously await the day when their parents or guardians hand over the car keys. Some parents also look forward to the day when their teen no longer needs daily rides to school or activities. Giving your teen a personal vehicle can make life easier for you and your child but it also brings its own set of worries and frustrations. Compared to other drivers, new drivers have a much higher risk of being involved in a serious motor vehicle crash. Learning to drive takes experience, patience, and proper judgment. Enrolling your child in driver’s education and letting them practice while you are in the car can reinforce safe driving habits. Taking the time to select the right vehicle also has a major impact on your teen driver’s safety. Whether you choose to gift a car for a special occasion or let your teen borrow a family car, consider the specific needs of your child before handing over the car keys. We’ve compiled some of the top considerations from leading automotive, financial, and teen driving experts to help you determine the right motor vehicle for your child. Topics New vs. used vs. hand-me-down Key factors in selecting the best car Safest cars for teens (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Subaru, and Hyundai) Financial and lifestyle considerations Additional resources for teen driving Making the final decision New vs. used vs. hand-me-down A big question for parents is whether to buy a used or new car for their child. Handing over the keys to a shiny, new car to your first-time driver might seem like a huge mistake. Young drivers have a higher likelihood of accidents and don’t always make the best judgment calls. However, a new car can give parents increased peace of mind knowing that their child is driving a vehicle with the best safety features. Buying a new car Buying a new car for your teen or young adult means you get to choose the size, model, trim level, and safety features. New cars come with a factory warranty, so you and your child don’t have to worry about costly maintenance within the first few years. New car models also come with the latest connectivity technology reducing the need for added distraction while calling or getting directions in the car. Some parents may be reluctant to give their teen a new car because of the liability. There is more to lose if your teen crashes a new car versus an old used car. Parents should also consider that new cars are often more expensive than used cars and depreciate quickly when you first drive them off the lot. Buying a used car Some parents choose to purchase a used car for their children. Used cars have a couple of advantages compared to new cars including lower depreciation rates, lower initial costs, potentially lower insurance premiums, and less liability when new drivers make mistakes. If you buy the right type of used car, you don’t have to worry about constant repairs or the longevity of the vehicle. For example, some Toyota models last over 300,000 miles. Other factors to consider include safety, customization, and technology. Depending on how old the vehicle is, the car may not have advanced safety features or updated hands-free calling. These features can help new drivers avoid accidents and distractions on the road. Gifting a hand-me-down Some families have a tradition of purchasing a new car for the parents and then gifting the old car to the newest family driver. This is a great method for parents who want to save money by avoiding another car purchase every time their child turns 16 or graduates. Some kids even think it’s cool to be driving around a nostalgic vehicle that once belonged to their parents. However, similar to buying a used car, a hand-me-down may not last as long, be as safe, or be as cheap to maintain as a new car. Is the car really a gift if your son or daughter ends up with a lot of additional maintenance fees and high fueling costs? These are all factors to consider when deciding between a new, used, or hand-me-down vehicle. Key factors in selecting the best car Car salesmen and other auto experts often have suggestions for parents looking to buy their teens a car. Instead of waiting to talk to a car salesman, we’ve compiled some of the top advice to help you narrow down the perfect car for your teen. Determining a budget Before you start your journey for the perfect vehicle, determine a budget. Your budget may be dependent on your son or daughter’s willingness to contribute. Some parents agree to contribute half of what the teen can pay. Other parents are willing to pay for the car in full. Whatever you choose for your family, aim for a budget that can pay for an economical and dependable car. Buying your child a fancy vehicle has some unforeseen consequences. Expensive cars increase the price of insurance. New drivers are also much more likely to get into accidents even if they are small fender-benders. This is a major reason why parents choose affordable new cars or reliable used cars. In a recent survey conducted by BestCompany.com, around 24 percent of respondents who had either gifted or received a car advised parents to purchase a used car rather than a new car. Respondents also mentioned that parents should find a good balance between a car that is reliable but not “too nice.” Researching vehicle safety ratings and features Safety is a top priority for new teenager drivers. According to Carsurance, “Most of the fatal teen car accidents occur six months after obtaining the license.” Advanced safety features can help prevent fatal accidents by alerting the driver of possible dangers and reducing overall distractions. Pam Fisher, the Senior Director of External Engagement at the Governor Highway Safety Association, provides insight into the top safety features parents should consider when selecting a car for their teen(s). Pam Fischer Teen Driving Safety expert Expert Tip: My number one recommendation is that parents buy the car with the most safety features they can afford because teens have the highest crash risk of any age group on the road. They should also check a vehicle’s crash ratings awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Consumer Reports’ best vehicles for teens. Fisher mentioned several different safety features parents should check: Airbags — Airbags lessen the impact on passengers during a crash. Look for cars that come with plenty of airbags to improve overall safety. Electronic Stability Control — This feature stabilizes the steering on turns and prevents skidding. Cars manufactured in 2012 and after come standard with electronic stability control. Backup Camera — Backup cameras help new drivers avoid hitting objects, people, or other cars behind them. Fisher recommends finding a backup camera with alerts to signal when an object is in the backup path. In-Vehicle Parental Control — Some automakers offer parental controls through a connected smartphone app. Popular parental monitoring technology includes Ford’s MyKey, Chevrolet’s Teen Driver, and Volvo’s Care Key. Parents can set speed caps, radio volume limits, and access teen driving reports. Evaluating options for vehicle size Vehicle capacity and height are two factors to consider when purchasing a car. A vehicle with less seating restricts how many passengers can accompany your new driver. According to the Teen Driver Source, “crash risk doubles when teens drive one peer passenger and triples with two or more teen passengers.” Limiting the number of passengers with vehicle size along with enforcing restrictions can help reduce the crash risk. Vehicle height can influence a driver’s ability to access current road conditions. Sedans are a popular choice for new drivers because of the cost and capacity. However, you may want to consider an SUV crossover if your driver feels too short in a sedan. Taller and heavy vehicles also offer additional protection in the event of an accident. Try to avoid vehicles that may be too large as they can be more difficult to maneuver. Tricia Morrow, a Chevrolet Safety engineer, has more than 20 years of experience at GM and has worked across a wide variety of roles. As a mother of a teen driver herself, she offers advice to parents searching for a car that will suit their child’s needs. Tricia Morrow Automotive Safety Expert Expert Tip: Parents should look to ensure their teens are physically comfortable in the vehicle they will be driving. I taught my daughter Ellie to drive last year, and one of my key consideration points was based on her height. Since she's a bit shorter, I wanted to make sure the vehicle featured a seating position that allowed Ellie to see the road and provided easy access to all of the vehicle's controls. Safest cars for teens Safety is a high priority for new or inexperienced drivers. Organizations such as the NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) stay up-to-date with current safety ratings for new and used cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began testing vehicles in 1978. New, high-volume models receive a 1–5 star rating in front-impact, side, and rollover crash tests. IIHS conducts its own crash tests on over 100 new or updated car models every year. Based on the IIHS rating system, cars can earn a Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor rating on each of the six crash tests. The cars that receive a “Good” rating on all six crash tests and “Good” or “Acceptable” rating for headlights become a Top Safety Pick+ for the year. Below are some of the safest new and used vehicles for teens according to IIHS, NHTSA, and Consumer Reports. In addition to top safety ratings, these car models come with electronic stability control and have a weight greater than 2,750 lbs. Some models have recommended trim levels for optimal safety. All of these car brands also fall into the top 10 best car brands on BestCompany.com with reviews highlighting customer experience of purchasing a car for teens. Toyota Toyota is known for its reliability and longevity. Some Toyota car models are still on the road with 300,000 miles or more. Toyota offers top safety features for new teen drivers in its Toyota Safety Sense package. With hybrid options, parents can find fuel-efficient options that will keep costs low for teens with a long commute. Toyota has its own page dedicated to the best Toyota models for teens. Recommend models for teens New: Toyota Corolla (XLE/XSE sedan + Advanced Lighting; XSE hatchback + Preferred package) New or Used: Toyota RAV4 (2015 or newer) New or Used: Toyota Prius Prime (2017 or newer) Used: Toyota Prius v (2015-2017) Customer Review: Mindy Baumann "Great cars that run forever and ever! My teenage daughter drives an FJ cruiser and we feel good about her being in a safe, reliable vehicle." Honda Honda excels in areas of dependability, safety, and affordability. Parents can find new and used Honda vehicles that are comfortable and safe for new drivers. HondaSensing technology offers advanced features such as collision avoidance, road departure system, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Recommend models for teens New or Used: Honda Accord (2013 or newer) New or Used: Honda Insight (2019 or newer) New or Used: Honda CR-V (2015-16, 2019 or newer) Used: Honda HR-V (2017-18) Customer Review: Jaylene "When buying a car for my 16 year old daughter, Honda was a natural choice. Although it scared me that she would be out on the roads driving alone, I knew that putting her in a Honda car would keep her safe. And it proved to be true. Only two years after buying her car, she got in a life threatening car crash, and walked away without a scratch on her. Thanks, Honda." Nissan Nissan is known for its diverse lineup created to fit your budget and needs. New Nissan vehicles start at around $15,000. Nissan offers the following safety features: forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, lane intervention, back-up intervention, around view monitoring, and distance control. Recommend models for teens New: Nissan Altima (SR, SV, SL, and Platinum trims) New or Used: Nissan Rogue (2017 or newer) New or Used: Nissan Murano (2015 or newer) Customer Review: Cristi Stafford "When it was time to buy my daughter's first car last year my husband and I knew exactly what it would be. A Nissan Altima. We knew it would be a good dependable and safe car for our 16, and she has loved it." Chevrolet Chevrolet manufacturers affordable vehicles with a proven reputation. The company takes extra steps to ensure teen driver safety. In 2019, Chevy released the first buckle-to-drive feature that requires drivers to fasten their seatbelt before the car can be put into drive or reverse. As mentioned by Pam Fisher, Chevrolet has teen driver technology that includes speed caps, buckle-up reminders, stereo volume limits, and speeding notifications. Recommend model for teens New or Used: Chevrolet Equinox (2016 or newer) Customer Review: Cathy Sewall "I really could go on forever on how much I love your vehicles! We have 4 in our yard right now, and when my son is old enough to drive... he will get a Chevy too!" Subaru Subaru creates a safe and smooth vehicle with the ability to master any terrain. Subaru cars have one of the highest resale values among car brands. The majority of new Subarus are still on the road ten years after purchase. Although Subaru prices are a little higher than competitors, parents can have peace of mind that their child is driving a safe and dependable vehicle. Recommend models for teens New or Used: Subaru Impreza (2014 or newer) New or Used: Subaru Crosstrek (2018 or newer) New or Used: Subaru Forester (2016 or newer) New or Used: Subaru Outback (built after October 2019) New or Used: Subaru Legacy (2013 or newer) Customer Review: Ryan Larsen "I recently purchased a Subaru Outback for my daughter. It is a great value and great car. I like their safety features and the car is extremely reliable. I would highly recommend a Subaru." Hyundai Hyundai vehicles feature the right balance between safety and style. Hyundai has several models that rise to the top of safety rating sites. The automaker also has the best factory warranty in the country: 5 years or 60,000-mile basic policy and 10 years or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Recommend models for teens New or Used: Hyundai Santa Fe (2017 or newer) New or Used: Hyundai Kona (2018 or newer) New or Used: Hyundai Elantra GT (2018 or newer) Customer Review: John Burnside "Quality is acceptable and the quality for value is very good. I've purchased three other used Hyundai's over the years for my daughters and all have been good vehicles. It's my opinion that Hyundai offers the best value in compact cars. They are hard to beat." Financial and lifestyle considerations Many teens look forward to the day when they receive the keys to freedom (or in other words access to a car). Some parents give their children a car for their 16th birthday. Other parents make deals to gift a car at a high school or college graduation. Whatever the tradition is in your family, you should take financial and living factors into consideration. Financial factors If you are gifting a car to your child, you are likely not too concerned about the financial costs that are associated with owning a car. However, determining who will pay for gas, maintenance, and insurance before gifting the car can help you avoid any incorrect expectations. Here are a few questions to consider pertaining to vehicle expenses. Can your child pay for upcoming vehicle maintenance? Can your child afford to pay for the gas? Can your child afford the insurance premiums? Some parents require their children to pay a portion of the overall vehicle cost. This method teaches children how to save money and sacrifice time for a long-term goal. You may consider this agreement if you are worried about your child’s level of financial independence and responsibility. Patti Black from the Bridgeworth Wealth Management Group suggests involving your teen in the car buying process to help them learn about personal finance. Patti Black Financial expert Expert Tip: Talk about a budget for buying the car, and also a budget for insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repairs. My son found an old used luxury car that he could afford to buy, but, after talking with other people who owned this brand of car and to our insurance agent, learned he could not afford to insure and to maintain it. Lifestyle considerations Children often plan on going off to college or leaving the house after they graduate from high school. The young adult years bring about spontaneous adventures and unexpected life changes. When purchasing a car for your child, you should consider their 5–10 year plan. This will help you determine if you should hand over ownership early on or wait until they are settled in an area before turning over the title. Here are a few questions to consider concerning living conditions. Will your child need a car if they are going to a college out of state? Will your child be moving to a highly congested city area such as New York or Boston? Will your child be moving to a place that has different weather conditions warranting specific vehicle features or tires? Additional resources for teen driving Outside of choosing the right car, you can find apps and programs to help improve the safety of your new driver. These resources may help you monitor your teen’s driving habits, create safety guidelines for the first year of driving, and prepare your teen for unexpected situations behind the wheel. Location and driving app Some parents use a location app to keep tabs on their new driver. These location apps often have additional features such as roadside assistance and distracted driving reminders. Life360 — Life360 is a free location sharing app that notifies you when people in your circle have arrived or left designated locations. The Life360 app also has crash detection that can alert help when a crash is detected. Paid features include 24/7 roadside assistance, 24/7 emergency dispatch, individual driver reports, and SOS help alerts. Mamabear — Mamabear is an all-in-one parenting app that includes features for monitoring drive activity and location. Receive alerts when your child goes over the speed limit. You can also use Mamabear to chat and send messages. Truemotion Family Safe — This app offers another option for monitoring your teen’s driving behavior. Truemotion Family Safe is a free app that allows you to locate your driver, see their latest drive route, receive notifications if they are texting/calling while driving, and get an overall driving score for everyone on the app. Everyone in your family can join the app and compete for the best drive score. Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program (GDL) Each state has different rules for newly licensed drivers. These are called the Graduated Driver's Licensing Program. For example, in the state of California, new teen drivers are required to complete 50 hours of supervised driving with 10 of those hours being nighttime driving. They must also log at least 6 hours of driving course instruction. After a California teen is licensed to drive, they must wait at least 12 months before allowing a passenger under the age of 20 into the motor vehicle without the supervision of a licensed driver over 25 years old. The teenage driver must also be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 25 if they are driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Each state will have different requirements and guidelines for new drivers. The GDL program was created to safeguard new drivers from distractions and impaired judgment. Before putting your teen behind the wheel, learn about your state’s GDL program. Defensive driving courses Let the professionals teach your new driver about common situations on the road. A defensive driving course can teach teens about what to look for past just checking mirrors and turning on a blinker. These courses can help teens get used to their car and learn safe driving practices. Tire Rack Street Survival is a defensive driving course that offers classes across the U.S. Bill Wade, the National Program Director for Tire Rack Street Survival explains the advantages of signing your child up for a defensive driving class. “We recommend every first-time driver take a driving safety course in their vehicle. It's not enough to just know the logistical rules of the road. Driving relies on your expertise to react appropriately to other drivers' actions — and that's where driving safety courses can give your first-time driver the opportunity to learn in a safe, controlled environment the proper reactions to things like sudden stops, wet traction control, avoiding sudden obstacles at a fast speed and ultimately avoiding accidents. Driving safety courses that allow you to learn those reactions in the actual car you will be driving are best. Every vehicle has different limitations and they need to know how to control their daily driver.” Making the final decision After conducting research and narrowing down your options, you now need to make a final decision. You may choose to consult with a spouse or relative to help you think through the possible options. If you aren’t planning on surprising your teen, you may include him or her in the discussion. Car Insurance for Your Teen Once you’ve chosen a car for your teen, you will need to figure out the insurance logistics. Check out the next article in the series for car insurance recommendations and tips on how to lower your rates. Learn More Survey Methodology: Survey data was collected in March and April 2021 with 137 respondents through SurveyCircle, Survey Monkey, and emailing Best Company reviewers.
Do you dread shopping for a car? You aren't alone. A 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index conducted by Harris Poll showed the following results: 87% of Americans dislike something about shopping at a car dealership 61% feel taken advantage of at the dealership 52% feel anxious or uncomfortable at the dealership 24% of people ages 35–44 would rather get a root canal than go to a dealership Let's just say that shopping for a car is not some people's favorite. If that sounds like you, let me introduce you to a concept: You can hire an expert to do your car-shopping for you — a car concierge. At the end of this article, readers will understand how a car concierge can help them during the car buying process and what it will cost them. What is a car concierge or car buying service? A car concierge is a professional car shopper, but so much more. Andrew Guthmiller, the owner of Minnesota-based Car Concierge, puts it this way: "A car concierge is an advisor working for you and your best interests to get you the right car for the best deal that can be found." Not only can they help to get the best deal, but they help simplify every step of the process, from picking a car to paperwork. LeeAnn Shattuck, The Car Chick®, runs a car-buying service focused on women, although it turns out that about half of her customers are men. She says her clients call her service: "How to get a great deal on a car without all of the b@%%S#^&." While some services only deal within a specific geographic area, with the help of the internet, you don't have to live next door to a professional to find a pro to help you. Many of their services can be rendered remotely, though you are more likely able to get one-on-one service and delivery in big cities. Some professionals specialize in new car purchases or leases only, while others will also help customers with a used car purchase, although this can be a more intensive process. Either way, consumers could benefit. What services does a car concierge provide? As we know, shopping for a car is not a one-step process. It takes time and effort to select a car, make sure its a good fit, negotiate pricing, and find financing, before you ever get your keys. Shattuck says that she helps consumers get a great deal while avoiding "the hassle and frustration of traditional car shopping." While all car-buying or car-leasing concierge services are different and set different expectations, here are several things that they can help you with: Picking a car Only one in three car buyers know the exact make and model they want when it comes time to start shopping. "A big part of my service," says Shattuck, "is helping the client pick the Perfect Car™ based on their unique lifestyle, budget, and personality, whether that's a new car or a used car." Tom Paolella, owner of Car Concierge Plus adds, "Many of my clients have no idea what they're looking for so I'll listen to their needs and wants and then make unbiased recommendations on makes and models." For those of us needing help when picking a car, this is a HUGE benefit. Setting up test drives "I set them up on no-hassle test drives of (typically) two to three different vehicles that I think would suit them," says Shattuck. These pre-scheduled test-drives are set up at locations convenient to the client's home, explains Paolella. Negotiations and paperwork Shattuck says that she also handles "all of the legwork and negotiating, including their trade, financing (including leases), accessories and any "extras" like extended warranties, pre-paid maintenance, etc." This includes, says Paolella, overseeing "the contract details to ensure that no additional fees are being tacked on." Once all of that is done, how do you actually get your car? "Once a deal is reached," says Shattuck, "the client purchase/leases the vehicle directly from the dealership (not me)." The trouble with advising on a used car As we mentioned earlier, it can be hard for a car concierge not physically located in your city to help vet a used car. Guthmiller says that while some companies only help with new car purchases, Car Concierge helps customers with used car purchases, as well as new. He outlines some of the challenges that come about when trying to shop for a used car: "Working on used is a lot bigger challenge. We need to go through everything much more thoroughly as it could have damage or be a salvage vehicle. Is it mechanically sound? Do we trust the dealership is giving us true answers about the condition? Since we are not able to look at a vehicle in person all over the country, we take a lot of pride in asking the right questions and getting a gut feel regarding the dealership in question. If something feels wrong, we do a few different things dependent on the situation. Walk away from it altogether, have a third-party mechanic look at it and give us their feedback, or hire a company called Lemon Squad to do an in-depth inspection for us to make sure we know what we are getting into. These are the reasons, however, that a lot of companies will avoid used. Lot more at stake to do a good job and not have a disappointed client." What benefits do people get from using a car shopping concierge service? Whether you end up buying a new or used car, with a concierge at your side, says Guthmiller, "You gain a non-biased advisor who is only interested in what most greatly benefits you, meaning we aren't attached to any brand or bank. We just want to find you your best options." With that said, the benefits to customers seem pretty awesome. You get to avoid the stress of buying a car on your own, save time, and get a good deal on your car. Less stress"Buying a car can be stressful and anxiety-filled for some people," says Guthmiller. Using a service like ours allows you to be able to skip all of that." One part of that stress is often the research, especially for someone who worries that they don't know enough about cars. "We take care of all research required to get you the answers you need without any pressure from the dealership to buy a car," he says. What a dream. Save time"Not having to do any research or run to dealerships means more time doing the things that you love," explains Guthmiller. With a personal shopper handling all of the parts of the car shopping process that you don't want to, like research, talking with dealership staff, etc, you can save quite a bit of time, during each step of the shopping and purchase process. Paolella explains that his service "locates the exact car a client wants, saving up to 10 hours of online shopping time." On top of that, "Not having to do any research or run to dealerships means more time doing the things that you love," explains Guthmiller. Typically, people are dissatisfied by the amount of time it takes in a car dealership to finalize a purchase. Autotrader found that while people generally were satisfied with test-driving and interacting with sales staff, only 46% were satisfied by how long the process took. At an average of three hours spent at the dealership, half of that time is generally spent on negotiations and paperwork. "Don't spend days at the car dealer," advises Paul Maloney, Owner of Car Leasing Concierge, The Car Buyer's Advocate!. "A professional concierge can have your car and paperwork delivered to your door with simplified paperwork ready to sign, all within a 24-hr time period." Save moneyEveryone wants to get a good deal on their car purchase. No one wants to feel taken advantage of. With a professional car buyer on your side, there is a "High likelihood of saving a good amount of money," says Guthmiller. Those savings can be seen in several different places, says, including "Price, trade value, sales tax, interest, warranties, accessories, and not overpaying for hidden fees as we look through everything." Maloney adds, "A Licensed Professional Concierge will nearly always be able to get you a better deal since they've either worked in or directly with car dealers' fleet departments. Since most buy in volume, we usually have access to dealer incentives. These amounts can range from $500 to $20,000 in extra savings, depending on the vehicle the customer is looking to buy or lease. So before you sign at the car dealership, check to see if there's a concierge in your area." What does it cost to hire a car buying pro? In this industry, you will basically see two pricing models: Flat fee — A flat-rate fee that is often, but not always, paid upfront. This sometimes depends on the service package that you select, whether you are buying new or used, because there is often a more intense process. From the companies we reached, this flat rate can be between $199 to $650, but those services were not cookie-cutter options. Percentage of savings — Some companies offer to take their cut as a certain percentage of the savings on your car that they are able to negotiate for you. On top of the full-service deal, some car buying services offer educational resources to help you learn about how to get the best deal or a price-check service, for customers who are not so sure that they need help negotiating, but just want to check that they got a good deal. One example is Maloney's Car Price Check Service ($25): "It's just like buying a house — have a professional check it out before you buy. It should be no different when you buy a car. 95 percent of buyers don't have the correct information. They only have the information the dealers are smart enough to let them out with until it comes time to sign. With our service, customers let the experts check it out before you sign. Remember numbers don't lie, but salespeople will." When should consumers reach out to a car buying service? "We are open to helping people in any stage of the process," says Guthmiller. "We have helped people identify the right car for them to getting involved long after they have already ordered a car and everywhere in between." "Of course, he adds, "it is always easiest if you come to us with the exact car, features, and colors that you want to have, but we are not worried about what is easiest. We are only concerned with helping our clients have an amazing car buying experience without having to worry about a thing." Which type of consumers are best served? "Basically," says Maloney, "anyone who's sick and tired of salespeople blowing smoke up their tailpipe every time they go to buy or lease a new vehicle." "I can't say that I have an ideal client," says Guthmiller. "We have helped all kinds of people with prices between $7,000 to $225,000. It really just seems that most everyone hates the car buying process as it is and would prefer help." "Anyone uncomfortable negotiating a deal on their own, anyone who doesn't know enough about cars or the behind-the-scenes buying/leasing process, anyone who doesn't have the time or energy to play the back and forth game with dealerships, or anyone who likes saving tons of money would be best-served," says Paolella The bottom line If you don't want to have a typical car buying experience in a dealership, a car buying concierge could be just the service you have been looking for: someone with automotive knowledge, negotiating skills, and the power to help guide you through the process with minimal effort. As Paolella explains, "Car Concierge Plus was founded after hearing too many harrowing stories from friends and family about their negative car buying experiences. Getting a new vehicle should be a time filled with happiness and excitement. Unfortunately, for most, this day is tarnished with nervousness, angst, and in many cases regret — the regret of not knowing if you got a good deal, or have just been taken for a ride (pun intended). Car Concierge Plus brings the values of integrity and honesty to the car buying process. My mission is to be a true advocate on behalf of my clients, and to level the playing field between dealers and buyers. Most importantly, loyalty, trust and money-saving results are at the heart of every service I provide." For many consumers, a car concierge service may just be the lifehack they have been hoping for. As Guthmiller says, "Regardless of if you are too busy, not sure what you are doing, or just don't want to do it on your own, we are here to help." No matter your motivation or the reason why you dread going car shopping, a concierge can help. Special thanks to our panel of experts: Andrew Guthmiller, owner of Car Concierge started selling cars in 2008. Since 2017, he has worked professionally to help clients find the perfect car from anywhere. Check out his Facebook and reviews. LeeAnn Shattuck, The Car Chick® owns a car buying service focused on empowering shoppers, especially female shoppers, in this male-dominated industry. Check out her blog, podcast, and youtube channel. Paul Maloney, owner of Car Leasing Concierge, acts as The Car Buyer's Advocate, helping people to get the best price on their car. Delivery is available nationwide. Check out his ebook, podcast, and Facebook page. Tom Paolella, owner of Car Concierge Plus, shares his car buying knowledge with clients nationwide, helping them to get the best price possible on a new or used car. Check out his Facebook, Twitter, and testimonials.
1. You need more than 60 months Jake McKenzie, Content Manager, Auto Accessories Garage “You know a car purchase is out of your league when the loan terms exceed 60 months. A lot of dealerships eager to make a sale will convince you that anybody can buy any car as long as they finance over a long enough period of time. But ultimately in these cases, you’ll end up paying so much in interest that you could have bought two cheaper cars in the same amount of time, and you’ll never make back that amount of interest when you try to sell the car. If you can’t find an affordable monthly payment that will allow you to pay a car off in 60 months or less, you can’t afford the car.” 2. Loan payments exceed 10%–15% of your monthly pay Becky Beach, Finance Blogger, MomBeach“You know a car purchase is out of your league when the monthly payment is your entire paycheck!” Igor Mitic, Co-Founder, Fortunly“You know a car purchase is out of your league when you need to spend more than 10 percent to 15 percent of your net monthly pay solely on the loan payments. Add the monthly expenses of insurance, reparations, and gas, and all these expenses combined should not exceed 20 percent of your monthly paycheck.” Valerie Coleman, Automotive Sales, 5miles“The generally accepted rule is that you spend no more than 15 percent of your pre-tax income on your monthly car note.” 3. The downpayment is too much Laura Gonzalez, Marketing Manager, Audi Peoria “[It’s out of your league if] you barely have enough money for the downpayment. Unless it’s an emergency situation and money is extremely tight, it's a smart idea to save some cash to more than cover the down payment and associated fees.” Coleman“You can’t put down a significant downpayment. Be prepared to put $1,500 down on a vehicle that costs between $23,000 and $34,000 (good buys like Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda 3, Nissan Rogue, Subaru BRZ, Toyota Prius).” 4. The cost-to-own is too much Coleman“The ancillary costs add up (and up, and up). Gas mileage, maintenance, etc. are not things to be taken lightly. Cars can look great and still be prone to mechanical issues. Educate yourself by researching consumer reports and user ratings/reviews.” Evan Reeves Alonzo, Certified Public Accountant“You know a car purchase is out of your league when...you would have to take out a loan to cover a major repair.” Eric Anderson, Co-founder and Organizational Development Manager, elMejorTrato.com"You know a car purchase is out of your league when you can't put 10 percent of your gross monthly income toward car expenses. The moment you own a car, you are taking up new monthly car-related expenses. There are a lot of fees when it comes to buying a car that people don't take into account. These costs (like gas, insurance, repairs or fines) come attached to your new car." 5. Insurance is crazy expensive Coleman“The cost of insurance = more than 10 percent of your gross income. Interest.com recommends that you limit your total monthly vehicle expenses to 10 percent of your gross income to include your insurance.” 6. You lose perspective with monthly payments Beach"You know a car purchase is out of your league when you can buy a home instead with the money! I have a friend that paid $150,000 for his Lambo. I could pay off my home with that amount of money." Robert Barrows, R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations "Over the years, I’ve handled the advertising for a lot of car dealerships. One time, after going to an auto show, the dealer asked me if I saw anything I liked. I said 'Yeah, the Bentley and the Lamborghini.' (Both of which would be way, way, way out of my league…) So...to fill in the blank...I know that purchase is way out of my league when I have to ask 'How much is that a month on a Bentley. Or...How much is that a month for that Lambo?'" 7. Your mileage limit is too low Coleman“There may be strings attached. If you have good credit, you may get a lower payment for a higher-priced car (but not necessarily). If leasing, remember that you have a limited number of miles you can drive, so a lease may not be a good deal for you if you are, for instance, a heavy commuter.” 8. You are already in deep on a car loan Jeff Rose, Certified Financial Planner, author, and self-proclaimed numbers geek, GoodFinancialCents "You are upside-down on your current vehicle (meaning you owe more than it's worth). It's not that dealers won't sell you another car. They will. But that deficit you still owe on the previous car (if you trade it in, for example) will just be added into your new car loan. It doesn't go away. So now, you owe more than your new vehicle is worth, too. And that's on top of the fact that you likely didn't get a good deal and paid full price. Why? Because the dealer already took a car off your hands that can't be sold for the price owed on it. They aren't going to pay off your debt for more than they can get out of the vehicle and then also give you steal on the new vehicle. To fix this, you need to pay down the debt on the car you own before buying another one. You won't financially recoup the fact that you paid too much but at least you won't be dragging a deficit into the next purchase with you. Plus, you'll regain a stronger position when negotiating your next vehicle purchase." 8. You have to prioritize car payments over savings Rose"You can make a car payment but not save toward retirement. Car loans are one of the biggest killers of retirement savings. They are so large and for such a long time these days, people are finding themselves unable to save toward retirement. They have car payments instead. If you can't do both, you shouldn't be buying a new car. To fix this, you need to figure out how to cut expenses so you can both save toward retirement and replace an old car. You may need to take on a side gig to supplement your income to make the new car happen." Matthew Woodley, Founder, UpgradedDollar“Your monthly car payment exceeds your monthly savings amount” 9. You haven’t a clue what your budget is Rose"You don't have the extra every month to consistently save toward a new car. Before actually shopping for one, you should be working your budget every month. Money should be set aside toward a down payment and other costs, such as starting new insurance. If you're not able to currently set aside money every month, you can't afford it in the near future either. If you're already paying for a car loan and figure that you'll just be trading in and have the same payment, you need to check some facts before moving forward. Things such as current interest rates, loan terms and lengths, and the true value or your current vehicle can alter what kind of monthly commitment you'd actually have. To fix this, you need to rework your budget and figure out how you can afford to set aside money every month. Then consistently do it for at least a few months. That way, you can test the new budget and know if you can stick it out for the long haul." Marco Baatjes, personal finance blogger, Bottom Line Cents"You know a car purchase is out of your league when you simply can’t afford it! The best way to determine if you can or can’t afford that new shiny car purchase is by doing a budget analysis and putting the things you need first over the new car you want. Most people don’t like creating budgets; instead, they would rather have a “wing it” personality thinking that they can afford something they can’t. This kind of mentality could lead you spiraling into debt quickly, without you knowing it, and that new car that you may have bought could get repossessed quite easily. Budgeting will allow you to see into your personal finance and provide more insight into whether the car purchase is out of your league or not." 10. You’re tempted to lease, just for the decreased monthly LeeAnn Shattuck, The Car Chick “You know a car purchase is out of your league when... you are considering leasing the car because that is the only way you can afford the monthly payments. If you are leasing a car only for the lower monthly payments, you are looking at too much car.” The bottom line Consider this advice from Woodley: “Whilst it can be very tempting to purchase your dream car, it's important to remember what Warren Buffett famously stated “If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need.” And this is certainly true when it comes to buying a vehicle. In fact, Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world, drives a Cadillac XTS worth only around $45,000.”
Many millennials find themselves without much credit to their name, even after graduating from college. Recently, the number of consumers younger than 25 with established credit has decreased. The 2017 report CFPB Data Point:Becoming Credit Visible states that 8.9 percent of people establish credit with an auto loan, though a high percentage of those needed a co-signer. Is this a good opportunity? Or a bad idea? It turns out that the answer isn’t so cut and dry. We asked finance experts for advice about how Millennials can use a car purchase to build credit, without messing it up. What are you building credit for? "First, we really need to understand what the reason behind building credit is in this case,” says Mike Scott, Senior Mortgage Loan Officer with Independent Bank. What are your motives? Scott says, “Are you looking to buy a home in the near future, or are you simply looking to build a long-term credit rating?” If you are purely looking at buying a car as a way to establish and build your credit, this might not be the best route. Instead, Scott advises: "To build credit, I strongly suggest starting with a secured credit card (assuming you have absolutely no credit) from a local credit union. The credit union cards will typically have a lower interest rate than those from other banking institutions. The first month that the card is active, use it to pay for everything that you would normally pay cash for, until the balance on the card is within $50 of the limit. When that happens, stop using the card and wait to receive the statement. When you receive the statement, pay the card off in full to avoid paying interest charges. From that point on, ensure that your card balance on the statement is no more than 10 percent of the available credit. Once the card has been in place for six months, the next step is to apply for two other credit cards that are not secured cards. Some factors that impact a credit score include proportion of the current balance reported to the available credit limit and how long accounts have been established. For the first year or two, you can expect that the new accounts will bring a credit score down some. For this reason, avoid closing credit card accounts, as closing the account can lower your credit score. Now, to an average person, $500 owed on credit card means that they owe $500. To a credit bureau, if they owe $500 on a $500 card, they are maxed out, a poor credit risk, and the score goes down. If they owe the same $500 on a card with a $5000 limit, they are a good credit risk and the score goes up. As a result, if someone tends to pay the card off every month, it would actually behoove them to pay the card twice a month: once when the statement billing cycle is about to end, and again after the bill comes out, making sure that the balance showing on the bill stays at under 10 percent of the available credit limit. Once credit has been established slightly, adding a car loan into the mix can be a good thing." Is a car loan a good way to boost your credit history? If you can afford to pay for a car in cash, then do it. Financing a car purchase is not a golden credit-building opportunity. ***“Saddling yourself with unnecessary high-interest debt is a bad way to build credit,” explains Credit Industry Analyst, Sean Messier with Credit Card Insider. While it's possible to finance a car with limited credit, Messier says it's not necessarily the right course of action: "If you’re dealing with limited credit and can avoid financing your new vehicle, you should absolutely do so, because any loan you’d be able to secure would likely have frustratingly high interest rates. If possible, pay for your vehicle with cash, and consider alternative credit-building methods, like secured credit cards and credit builder loans, which can cost you much less than a traditional loan while still bolstering your credit scores.” If you are in a position to pay cash for a car, but just wondering if a car loan is a good way to boost your credit history, it’s not. Can you finance a car with limited credit? Not every Millennial wondering about using a car loan to establish credit can pay in cash for a car. “The unfortunate reality,” says Messier, “is that you won’t always be able to cover the price of your vehicle with cash, so it might simply be necessary to use financing. The good news? There are ways to finance a car without descending into crippling debt.” In this case, he has three suggestions: “If you can find a co-signer that you trust, and who has better credit than you, you’ll likely have access to loans with much better interest rates.” “Make a large down payment, if possible, to keep the amount that you’re financing to a minimum.” “Shop for loans carefully, and examine all your options. More favorable terms are often available through credit unions and online lenders, rather than big-league banks. " How can a car loan help your credit? Edith Muthoni is Chief Editor of the investing education site Learnbonds.com. Prior to that, she worked in the banking and the Fintech industries for 16 years. She explains: “A car loan can help build your credit in several ways. First, the average price tags of most cars require financing, which can be done in installments of two to five+ year plans. By making payments on time, you can build your credit score which will, in turn, help build a positive credit history. Lenders look at your credit history when deciding whether to give you a loan or not. In fact, up to 35 percent of your FICO credit score is derived from your payment history. Besides helping to improve on your payment history, auto financing contributes to your credit mix and new credit which, when combined, constitute 20 percent of your credit score. So it is easy to see why buying a car with a loan and making increased monthly payments can impact over 50 percent of your FICO score.To begin with, you will be required to make a sizeable down payment and pay monthly financing charges. Overall, it is always a good idea to finance a car even if you have the cash. You can invest the amount in an interest-bearing account at a much higher rate than the amount you are paying for the car." However, the interest-bearing account will have to beat your loan rate to be worth it. Why would you get approved if you have bad credit? Jake McKenzie, Content Manager, at Auto Accessories Garage explains, “Buying a car is a great way to build credit, because often an auto-loan is the easiest type of loan to get. The reasoning behind this is, the bank or lending institution knows that in the worst case scenario, they could always repossess the car if you stop paying for it.” Is it good to make a big down payment? “Paying your loan on time will help build your credit,” says McKenzie, “but if that is the sole purpose of the loan, you don’t want to be throwing money away either. What you want is the lowest possible percent of interest. If a larger down payment can lower your interest rate, by all means go for it!” “Making a big down payment will give you less to pay over time and decrease your monthly payments,” says Jory McEachern, Director of Operations at ScoreShuttle. Scott says that this depends on your goals. “My advice is to make a down payment big enough to keep the actual car payment at less than 10 percent of your monthly income if you are financing the car for 4–5 years. That gives you flexibility to pay more on the car when you can, without forcing the larger payment.” What kind of rates and terms will you see? "The best case scenario is 0 percent APR,” says McEachern. “The worst is a high interest rate over a long period of time. Your credit score can affect your terms for paying a loan, for example: A borrower with excellent credit may qualify for a lower interest rate on an auto loan, excluding other unique specials each dealership may have to offer. Meanwhile, a consumer with poor credit may see a higher interest rate. When you add up the extra costs over the life of the loan, the borrower with a lower score would end up paying a lot more in interest for the exact same vehicle!" This is the scary part that you want to avoid. If you start your credit from scratch, as Scott suggested, “with a secured card, at the end of six months you should have a score in the mid-600s. As such, you should qualify for terms that are possibly not the best, but should be far better than the worst.” “If you have no score,” he says, “expect to pay 16–21 percent on the car loan, even with a nice down payment.” “Conversely,” he says, “with a score in the mid-600s (650 or so), you should be able to get a rate a few points above prime, and about half or less what you would pay without a score. In a best-case scenario, and with a nice down payment, you may get a rate of prime (currently around 5.25 percent).” McKenzie warns, “You don’t want to go over 60 months on your loan either. Even if you’re building credit, an extra-long loan will be doing more harm than good on your personal finances. Consider 36–48 months as your sweet spot.” Is it worth it to make bigger monthly payments? If credit building is your goal, McEachern says, “Paying increased monthly payments is not recommended.” Scott warns, “What many people make the mistake of doing ... is taking out the loan and paying it off in less than 12 months.” While that may sound awesome to be debt-free so quickly, he urges consumers to “Remember that one of the things that impacts a credit score is how long accounts have been open. The account should stay open at least 18, if not 24 months or longer, in order to positively impact a credit score. Accounts that are paid off in less than six months don't have the adequate time to raise the score and improve it." "Again, we are talking about long-term planning,” he says. “Before paying off a car faster, make sure that you have an emergency fund. Life happens. Also, make sure that you take at least 24 months to pay the car off, so that you are establishing the long-term willingness to repay that the credit bureaus are looking for.” If you are capable of paying in cash, but want to use financing to build credit, what kind of loan should you use? Scott says, “The process should be the same regardless of ability to pay cash.” “For one thing, never tell the dealership that you are paying cash. Financing the vehicles is actually a source of income for them, and they may not discount the car as much if they think you will pay cash.” McEachern suggests, “Speak with your bank or credit union, who may offer you better terms or interest rates on your loan.” Scott agrees that you should check on rates with your bank or credit union before you head out to the dealerships. “This way,” he explains, “you can at least know what your existing options are, rather than flying blind. The dealers can often beat the local bank's options, but you won't know and may end up paying a higher rate simply because you did not bother to check.” If this is your credit building strategy, what dealer add-ons, fees, and financing contract terms should we look out for? “Stay away from almost everything,” says Scott. “This is where the dealers make money.Car warranties are often marked up $1,000–$2,000 over dealer cost. Believe it or not, that is often more markup than there is on the actual vehicle. . . . I do recommend an extended warranty on the car, but not at a ridiculous price. Whatever they quote, expect to be able to get at least $1,000 off that price unless you run into one of the less snakey dealers.” “Car dealerships often try to add extra costs at the end of the sale,” adds McEachern. “Some may be beneficial to you, such as a security lock, which could lower your insurance rate. It is a case-by-case scenario. Be strategic, be careful about add-ons, be wary of customization.” That’s not to say that all add-ons are a bad idea. “Unless you are putting a large down payment on the vehicle (30 percent or more),” Scott advises to get the gap insurance, but beware of the dealer markup. He says, “When the dealer offered it to my wife and me, they initially quoted a cost of $1,100 for it. I was able to get it for less than half that by the time we were done. They try to quote it as a monthly payment difference, so $20 per month does not sound bad, but they were still marking it way up.” Should you just pay in cash and build credit elsewhere? McEachern points out, "Buying a car will build credit, as it is a large ticket purchase. It will help to diversify your credit profile. Using an installment loan will show a positive payment history." Scott says that this decision all comes down to your long-term goals. He says that if you are planning to purchase a home in the next 18 months, you may just want to pay in cash if you can. He says, “being debt-free may be better, and having a few credit cards may be enough credit to qualify for a home loan.” The bottom line Using a car loan to build credit is certainly an option; however its usefulness will depend on your current credit and your long term credit goals. If you are able to pay in cash and just looking to build credit, there are better ways that are less risky, unless you are ready to finance the car and simultaneously invest in a high-yield, interest-bearing account that makes you more money than you are paying on your interest. This isn’t likely if you don’t have the credit score to get a low rate. If you aren’t able to pay in cash and you do need to finance, try to start establishing credit with Scott’s advice, more than six months before you plan to purchase. Stay in the 36–48 months loan term sweet spot, and don’t pay it off sooner than 24 months. Get a co-signer if you can, and make a large down payment if possible. Lastly, if you plan to buy a house in the next 18 months, the usefulness of a car loan may not be the best idea. Paying in cash for a car may be the best option, considering your bigger financial purchase in the coming months. Check out other credit building opportunities to help get purchase-ready.
In Part 1 of our series Solutions to Your Car-Buying Anxiety, we covered researching your car purchase, from how much to spend, to what to buy, and where to buy it. In Part 2, we are going to cover the part where you actually leave your house to go buy a car. This is often the most anxiety-producing step in the car buying process. David Weliver, founder of Money Under 30, and a former dealership employee, sums up common feelings behind this anxiety: “As consumers, we have a lot less experience buying our cars than we do, say, shopping for groceries, because we only buy cars every so many years. Also, we’re talking about a purchase that costs many, many thousands of dollars. So you have a perfect recipe for mistrust in the transaction.” “The car buying process is one of the most frustrating experiences on earth,” says Michael Rudge from Rudge Automotive Service and Paytons Auto Body. “The entire experience plays on nothing more than the buyer’s emotions.” No one likes to feel vulnerable like this. So, after you have handled your preliminary research, contacted dealers about available vehicles, how do you handle the stress of actually going out and getting it done? Let’s tackle a few of the common worries that people have, with solutions about how to avoid them altogether, as well as simple steps to handle them head-on. Problem 1: I feel insecure with my car-buying knowledge. How do I deal with a car salesman without feeling belittled or taken advantage of? This worry is a big one, and not uncommon. "[W]omen, in particular, seem to hate car shopping," says Sonia Steinway from Outside Financial, "in our survey of 600 recent car buyers, women were 25 percent more likely than men to report having a bad experience at the dealership." She says that several likely reasons are few women working in sales roles at dealerships, and outdated attitudes of salesmen themselves. One of my favorite portrayals of this in the media is in an episode of FOX’s New Girl, where the main character Jess, a female, invents a husband to make the process go more smoothly. This may seem farcical to some, but this episode felt all too real for many watching. Whether you are a woman or not, getting through the dealership experience is still a pickle that many wish to avoid. This is an option. Weliver says, “[I]f you’re buying a used car and would rather skip the traditional dealership process altogether, there are a few new online dealerships including Vroom and Carvana you might want to check out. The downside is that you can’t test-drive cars before you buy, but you can complete the entire transaction online and they deliver the car to your house in a week or so.” So, if you would like to buy a car with dealership-type assurances while avoiding a visit to the local lot, it is an option. However, if you are willing to stick it out and visit dealerships, research is going to be your best defense. Problem 2: I don’t know anything about cars. What am I supposed to be doing or paying attention to during the test-drive? “After you’ve narrowed your list of cars to two or three, it’s time to test drive,” says Jenni Newman, Cars.com Editor-in-Chief. “To streamline the process, create a checklist of important features to evaluate such as visibility, driver’s seat comfort, acceleration, handling, ride comfort and noise, backseat roominess, cargo space, interior quality, and multimedia functionality. Also compare the standard and optional safety technology, the EPA fuel-economy ratings, and price. Make sure to test drive the contenders over the same day. Even if you can’t drive the cars over the same roads, you’ll still get a sense of the differences between the cars. Test-drive before you buy. When trying to decide which car you want to drive, test-drive the leading contenders the same day — ideally, back-to-back. This will help you discern.” Sarah Lee Marks, founder of MyCarLady.com also suggests that you “Have the salesperson give you the route in advance, and be quiet. Turn off the radio. Listen for road, wind, and tire noise.” Problem 3: I hate that there isn’t just one price for everyone. How do I deal with this? “One of the top reasons people hate shopping for cars is because the price usually has to be negotiated, and nobody wants to feel like they got ripped off,” says Jake McKenzie, Content Manager at Auto Accessories Garage. Keep in mind that over the last few years, “Many dealers have gone to 1-price-best-price on their used cars and some for their new as well,” says Marks. If you want to avoid a loose pricing structure, consider shopping at a TrueCar certified dealer, a CarMax used car superstore, or Carvana, where prices are fixed. However, single-price dealerships won’t always get you the best price. As Marks puts it, “This has taken some of the negotiation off the table, not always to the consumer's benefit. Now the shopper must do more comparison shopping between dealers to know what is the best deal for them.” Problem 4: How do I know if I am getting a good deal? If you are still willing to head out to a run-of-the-mill dealership, how do you make sure you are getting a good price? This is where research on websites like TrueCar, KelleyBlueBook, and Edmunds come in handy. Each has its own pricing tools to help compare purchase prices in the area. “Today it’s not that hard to get a good price on a new car,” says Paul Maloney, owner of Car Leasing Concierge. “The problem is, a good price is not always your best deal. Car dealers have many avenues they can easily steer you down to make up the difference. For example: inflated finance rates inflated lease rates documentation fees processing fees bank Fees undervalued trade-in appraisals So the price they see online or in a newspaper ad is designed to do only one thing — reel you in hook, line and sinker, then drown you in payments. Hence, the bait n’ switch maneuver. Skeptical car buyers know this, but unfortunately, they are very limited on being able to figure out just how much they end up paying because they don’t have access to the factory-to-dealer incentives and buy rates leaving the customer with a very uneasy feeling.“ Ivan McBride, Vice President of Automotive Lending at PenFed Credit Union has some advice. He says, “consumers should do their research and look at car buying services as part of the research. A service like TrueCar will provide consumers a 360-degree look at their pricing options so they can get the best and most fair price on the car.“ However, there are a few things that consumers should know. McBride says, “Two things: 1) Everything is negotiable and, 2) You have to be reasonable.” To keep this advice in mind, he suggests, “When you’re preparing to go in, know the non-negotiables (that could be a monthly payment, new technology, etc.) for you and always be willing to walk away if you’re uncomfortable or your non-negotiables are not being met.” When it comes to McBride’s advice about being reasonable, advertising agency owner Robert Barrows, who has worked in the auto industry, suggests that consumers know, “A dealer can give you a deal on the front end (the new car) or the back end (the trade-in value of your used car), but they really can’t give you a deal on both ends.” Expecting both will probably lead to disappointment. Problem 5: How do I speed up the dealership process? When it comes to the actual purchase process at a dealership, consumers are least satisfied with how long it takes. Autotrader reports that buyers spend about 40 minutes just waiting at the dealership on average, and 64 percent of consumers were dissatisfied with how long it took reported that financing and paperwork took longer than expected. “The worst part of buying a car is probably how time-consuming it is,” says McKenzie. “Between price comparisons, test drives, and the mountains and mountains of paperwork, buying a new car can eat up loads of time.” To avoid mental and physical exhaustion, he suggests splitting the process up. “Go take a test drive with the knowledge that you won’t buy that day no matter what. Making it a multi-day experience will save you that fatigue of trying to do everything in one afternoon. “ In addition, McBride says, “The more familiar you are with the vehicle price, the options available, what you can afford, etc., the better off you’ll be and the quicker the process will go once you go into the dealership,” says Ivan McBride with PenFed. If you wish to expedite all of this, consider a car-buying concierge, like Authority Auto, or having a service help with local pricing quotes, like CarBargains, so that you only visit one dealership. On the other hand, you might select a dealership network that offers express service like CarSaver. Any of these should help to speed up the process. Stay tuned for more of our "Solutions to Your Car-Buying Anxiety" series. Next time, we tackle all the financial decisions that come with a new or new-to-you car. Dreams really do come true.