Saturday, April 12, 2008

Buying a New Sports Car – Twelve Tips To Avoid Financial Sticker Shock

by: Valerie Mills
Nothing (well, almost nothing) can compare to the thrill of driving a road-hugging high performance sports car. Instant steering response. Power at the exact nanosecond you ask for it.

Then, if you have one of the sexier models, you’ll attract attention on the road, filling up, and in the shopping mall parking lot.

Yes, you can pretend you’re driving the Autobahn with the wind blowing your hair. But beware of state troopers just waiting for an “arrest me red” entry on their ticket issuing track record.

Before You Fall In Love . . .

Before you step into that showroom and fall in love, consider the following practicalities:

1) How much do you want to spend? $20,000? $30,000? Or more?

2) What’s the tradeoff between performance (power) and gas mileage? Higher performance usually equals less gas mileage.

Does the vehicle use premium gas? Right now, the difference between premium and regular is 20 cents per gallon. At 20 miles per gallon and 15,000 miles per year, the cost differential is $150.

3) What about reliability? Some upscale models cost considerably more to maintain and have a higher incidence of repair costs. Would you appreciate paying $125 just to diagnose the problem when the check engine light comes on? Or paying $70 for an oil change?

4) In a climate where snow and ice are winter realities, do you want to drive it year round? Or store it over the winter?

A rear wheel drive sports car is impractical for winter driving. A front, all-wheel, or 4-wheel drive sport car can be driven in snow and ice, if you use all-season tires. If the little devil comes with performance tires, you will want to buy all-season tires (and possibly rims) for winter driving. Add another $1500 to the price of the car for the right tires and rims.

Do Your Homework . . .

5) Once you’ve decided price, performance, gas mileage, reliability, and practicality for all-season driving, get on the Internet. Here you can compare models and pricing and read reviews. Google “buying a new car” or “new car prices” and several sites will pop up.

Another source is Consumer Report (the new car issue) where your criteria will be easy to find. Red dots are good. Black dots are not. Most American car dealers consider this issue of Consumer Report a nightmare because it favors foreign car models, especially Asian cars. However, as explained in the newest version of this report, American car manufacturers are catching up.

6) Find out what you should pay before stepping into a showroom. Dealers will offer below invoice prices even on some sports cars because of rebates, dealer incentives, and dealer returns when they make a sale.

7) Remember the incidentals. Yes, you have to pay to transport the vehicle from the manufacturer. Yes, you have to pay for options. And remember the sales (and sometimes luxury) tax.

The Driving Experience . . .

8) Unless you have driven the exact model and year you want to purchase, step into the showroom and test drive the car. Driving the previous year’s model is unacceptable. If the dealer lures you into his web and asks you to test drive an earlier model, RUN out of the show room. You’re wasting your time.

9) Pick at least 2 different road types for test driving. The winding, hilly road is one road type. Road hugging capabilities are tested here. If the car is standard, smooth-shifting is another test. A car that cuts back after you release the clutch is NOT smooth shifting.

The highway is another road type. Make sure power is sufficient to handle entrance ramps and merging with traffic. If you get an instant response at highway speeds, the car is a possible winner.

Closing the Deal . . .

10) If you like the car, get the dealer’s best quote. Then, find at least one other dealer to give you another quote ON THE SAME CAR. If you don’t like the car in the test drive, you probably won’t like the car – ever. Move on to the next model.

11) When you decide on a car, call your insurance company and find out what the vehicle will cost per year. And don’t choke on your coffee when you hear the amount – you can shop around.

12) Estimate how much the real estate taxes will be on the car, especially if it’s a high-priced model. This could be another financial shocker!

As you can see, sports car buying is a process. Do you need to do all this stuff? Nope, you don’t. But consider the financial sticker shock when you’re paying an extraordinary amount for maintenance, repairs, gas, insurance, and taxes! Just for that Autobahnesque experience!

About the author:

Valerie Mills,a copywriter/designer specializing in direct mail and web advertising, has written sales letters, web sites, and brochures for the finance, self-help, and technology areas. She also audits sites for usability, sales appeal, structural integrity, and readability. In addition, using her experience as an educator and corporate trainer, Valerie has written several articles and a parents' guide to coach kids of all ages about money and personal finance. Refer to web sites http://v.mills.home.att.netand http://teachyourkidsaboutmoney.com




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