Do You Have a Car Crew?

Here’s Who You Need Along for the Ride, Even Before You Hit the Road

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When it comes to car buying and maintenance, the idea that “it takes a village” rings true. Wherever you want to go with your new car, you don’t need to go it alone. Whether your car is a necessity for your commute, a luxury for recreation, or a bit of both, it helps to have your own personal “pit crew” in place even before you purchase or lease.

Start with Your Seller

Of course, your journey in becoming a car owner starts long before the actual purchase. Get as much information as you can from websites and forums and seek advice from friends, colleagues and family. Before you speak to anyone trying to sell you anything, know as much as you can about what you want, what’s on the market, and their price tags. The right seller (with the right car for you) will appreciate and respect your research and can even complement your research with real insight into not only the makes and models that he or she sells, but the overall car market.

Whether you are working with a new or used car dealer or buying from a private seller, trust is key. Go into any negotiation with as much knowledge and as many recommendations as possible but also trust your gut. Look for customer reviews and complaints online for any dealership you visit. Before you buy, search for any red flags. If you’re buying a used car from a private seller or a dealer, be sure to ask for detailed service records and have a trusted mechanic join you for a test drive. If possible, have the car put up on a lift to search for any leaks, cracks, body damage or other issues. If your prospective seller gives you any reasons why you can’t do this, move on. Best case scenario, your seller will remain available post-purchase to answer any questions you may have down the road.

Meet with a Mechanic

Don’t wait until your car requires maintenance or breaks down before finding a good mechanic or auto repair shop. As noted above, you should have a mechanic inspect any used car you might purchase. Most dealers will have their own service shops and, if you are leasing, will generally offer a service contract with your lease.

However, if you are buying outright, know that dealer service centers often charge more than smaller, independently owned repair shops. Ask friends, family, and colleagues to recommend good mechanics and go online to research ratings. Then take some time to visit their shop, discuss the car you’re considering, and get a sense of their services, policies, prices, and turn-around times. The time invested in this search will be well worth it. Having a mechanic or shop team you can trust through the life of your car ownership is invaluable. How much you enjoy owning your car can depend, in part, on how well it’s cared for by a trusted professional.

Interview Your Insurance Agent

Before, during, and after your car purchase, a reputable insurance agent can also be an invaluable member of your team. If you own a home or carry renters insurance, you may already have an agent who can offer insight into your best options for insuring your car. If you are new to the world of insurance or looking for a new insurance company or a new policy, finding and working with a local agent and developing trust can really pay off in both the short- and long-term. Local agents are likely well versed in your state and local insurance requirements which can vary greatly when it comes to auto policies.

The right agent will also be available to address your questions and concerns after you’ve bought your policy, to assist you in filing claims and to help revise your coverage as your needs change. When pricing auto insurance policies, it may be tempting to take the cheapest coverage option available. But not having the right level of coverage for your needs could cost you in the long run. A good agent can help you make the right coverage choices based on your individual circumstances.