13 Mistakes first time car buyers make in India & how to avoid them! - eNidhi India Travel Blog

13 Mistakes first time car buyers make in India & how to avoid them!

Car purchase is a complicated process. Particularly if you do not have the expertise and experience, you will be confused beyond limit by various inputs you read online, what your fiends say, what car showroom/dealers tell you and so on. Thus it is very important to have a clear thought process while buying your first dream car and avoid simple mistakes that cost you dearly over time.

Let us see each of them one by one and try to understand how to avoid them

1 Not setting a budget range.

Most people start with a lower price range (like 5-7 lakhs) but as they explore their options, listen to salesmen, ask their friends, they end up extending their budget 2 times and buy a much more expensive car which is either beyond their means (more, longer EMI & maintenance) or has features they won’t use.

Remember the following

  • On road price is 20-25% of ex-showroom price advertised, so don’t get fooled by amount shown in ads
  • Cars need regular spending- insurance renewal, repairs, fuel, service, accessories etc. So don’t go beyond your means
  • You may have to face unexpected expenditure in life- like a medical emergency, or loss of job so keep some buffer, don’t blow up all your savings or earning potential on car purchase.
  • Car is a depreciating asset and new models, features come up every now and then. Even if you buy the most luxurious option now, within a few years there will be a more luxurious, feature loaded car in the market. Thus, buy what you need, spend less and if all goes well, plan to sell and upgrade to a newer car after 5-7 years.

Solution: Depending on savings, earnings and comfort level, set a fair price range and stay within that irrespective of temptations offered by salesmen. If you are taking on loan, you should be even more careful.

2 Judging based on random inputs

A friend may say the ABC brand is pathetic or the XYZ model is worst. Without understanding why he/she says so, you shouldn't discount a brand or model just like that. Maybe the issue is unique to your friend or the problem is specific to a dealer in their city or maybe it is an exceptional case not likely to happen with most customers. Try to substantiate the feedback with what you read in forums, FB groups, consumer forums. If you are convinced that the problem is generic or likely to happen with you also then only stay away.

Same applies to positive feedback- a particular model might have worked well for a friend for his usage needs, driving style and maintenance. Ensure same are applicable to your needs as well, before blindly booking a car because your friend said so. There will be difference between variants, models change over time or now there could be a better option than what your friend has, which was not available at the time he bought his car.

3 Not defining your must have, could have and wont have features

Cars come in different categories and price ranges. Some are suitable for city use only, some are made for offroad use, some seat 2 people only, some seat 7 or more, some are very powerful while others give good fuel economy, some are loaded with fancy features while others are known for their reliability and low maintenance. What all do you need out of these?

Must Have

Nice to Have

Won’t have

2 Air Bags, 

4 or more airbags

1 airbag or no airbag

Minimum 170 mm ground clearance

190-210 mm ground clearance

Less than 170 mm ground clearance

Automatic transmission

CVT or DSG or DCT

AMT

Seats 4 adults comfortably

5 or 7 seater

Not comfortable for 4

15 kmpl or more

17-20 kmpl

Less than 15 kmpl

Petrol

EV if range/budget is OK

CNG/Diesel

Minimum 4 star safety rating

5 *

Less than 3 *

Make a table like above on what all you need in your car. You will come across lots of features which you may not really need- 360 camera, panoramic sunroof, push button start.. Check if you really really need them and if the premium is worth spending. Not just purchase cost, your maintenance/repair/insurance bill will also will be higher

4. Trusting your dealer blindly

A car dealer/salesperson may try to cheat on many fronts

  • Insurance provided by showroom is usually 20-30% more expensive than what you get outside
  • They need to sell what they have, so they won’t tell about upcoming models
  • Some discounts are given only if you bargain
  • They will never tell a competition car is better. You have to check that on your own
  • They may not voluntarily disclose minor issues like any damage
  • Falsely tricking you to book on the spot claiming offer ends today
  • Sales/dealer will underplay the waiting period so as not to lose you. Actual waiting time could be 2-3x what they have promised 

Listen to them but never decide on the spot. Take your time, compare options, test drive and book once you are convinced that a model is right for you. It is ok to pay 10-20k more for the right car than book a car at lower price and regret it later.

5. Falling for things that don’t matter and ignoring things that does matter

Fancy features that may not matter much

Important factors that does matter

Sunroof

Safety rating

Turbo engine, lots of power

Reliability of the engine, maintenance cost & Fuel economy

All new model-just launched- no one else has it

Is the model reliable, spare parts are easy to get? Resale value is OK? Would there be lots of small small issues not tested well before launch?

Alloy wheels

Spare tyre same size or smaller?

Is the ground clearance adequate for your locality?

LED/DRL/Fancy lights

Corner lighting, is headlight adequate, fog lamps

Cruise control, voice commands, touch screen

Driving comfort, driver seat height adjustments, tilt and telescopic adjustments

6. Over estimating future needs

Many buy a 7 seater (like Triber, Ertiga) thinking all their extended family will join the trips, whereas in reality they won’t be able to fill 4 seats on most trips. If the usage is once in a blue moon, there is no point extending your budget and buying an expensive car. Hire an extra taxi on a need basis instead.

If 60-80% of your usage is within the city, there is no need for a turbo engine with extra power. Normal engine will do the work. Once in a month you may have to go a bit slow on the highway during a weekend trip, but that is hardly 20-30 mins extra time per 100 kms compared to a turbo variant. You save a lot on fuel, maintenance and purchase cost if you buy a naturally aspirated engine.

7. Thinking I will use the car for 8-10-12 years hence OK to stretch the budget

You never know how things will change in the next 4-5 years- you may get promoted and might feel like buying a more luxurious car, Govt may bring new laws banning cars older than 8-9 years, EVs may become mainstream, newer safety and comfort features may become standard even in cheaper cars, you may face a major accident and the car would have to be scrapped… So think about the next 4-5 years when you buy the car, beyond that it is a bonus. Don’t extend your budget beyond your means thinking I will use this car forever.

8 Getting confused with jargons

If you are a first time car buyer it is very easy to get confused between AMT, DCT, CVT, DSG (different types of automatic transmissions), FWD, AWD, 4WD, Rough Mode etc, PS, BHP, NM and so on. Learn some basics so that you’re not taken for a ride but also don’t get too excited or hyped that one of these is best and you should go for it at any cost. Take inputs from a trusted friend who can help you understand basics or decide what is best suited for your needs.

9 Not evaluating all options: Used car vs New vs subscription

Used cars have their pros and cons. If your usage is minimum, budget is limited and you have a trusted used car seller in your area, there is nothing wrong buying a used car for few years, save as much as half the money compared to new car and later decide on which new car to buy. At the same time, used cars need much more evaluation so don’t decide in a hurry without getting the car verified by a trusted mechanic or a friend.

You can also explore lease/subscription/long term rental options if it suits your needs. These options have their own limitations and drawbacks but will save you from huge spending upfront and let you experience a car for a while.

10 Getting fooled by media hype

When a new model is launched, brands spend lots of money to create hype around the launch. Media people are given cars to review and spread a positive vibe, discounted launch prices are announced, scarcity is projected (very few are available or the wait period is long). Buying a newly launched car has its risk- there could be several minor issues that were not tested or identified during manufacturing- so you will act as free tester for the company facing those issues post purchase, which brand will fix silently for future units without giving you any replacement or compensation. Sometimes a much hyped model flops in the market- resulting in low resale value and non availability of spares. Thus it is better to wait out a bit to see feedback from initial customers and then go for it, than falling into the frenzy and trying to be the first few to own a newly launched car model.

11 Falling for peer pressure

Do not fall into pressure that you’ve to show off with a better car than your peers or neighbors. Buy what suits your needs, interest and budget. Their income, usage and preferences will be different from yours.

12 Not test driving the specific variant

Showrooms usually keep top end variants for test drives. But many cars come in 10-15 different variants. Engine size & capacity, transmission, fuel type (petrol/diesel) and features all vary depending on variant. If you test drive 14 lakh Venue SX (0) Turbo DCT and then book 9 lakh Venue S 1.2 MT, you will have a huge difference in driving experience after you buy. Thus as much as possible ask for a test drive of the variant you want to book. If not, study the brochure, understand the difference and book only after you’re fully convinced on what you will get that suits your needs and expectations.

13 Not keeping your family informed

Car is a family asset. Different family members will have different expectations. While it may be difficult to meet everyone’s expectations, at least have a discussion, let them join during the test drive and make a decision as a family. Elders should be able to ingress and egress easily, someone might be dreaming about a panoramic sunroof, another may prefer automatic, there could be a pressure to opt for a 7 seater. Explain and illustrate why certain expectations can’t be met- budget constraints or other compromises needed.

Did I miss anything? Do share your experience and tips

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