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These are the questions you should always ask before buying a car – The Manual

Buying a car has changed dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, most people would spend hours at the dealership haggling over a final price, agonizing over paperwork, and test driving a car. Now, most of the paperwork can be done from home, dealers refuse to haggle on pricing, and test drives are timed, short trips.
Doing your homework before heading to the dealership is more important than ever. If you’re in the market for a new ride, there are some questions to ask when buying a car. To make things easier, we’ve broken these questions into two categories: what to ask before you go to the dealership and what to ask once you’re there.
Car salespeople have to know a lot about a lot of different cars. Giving them the benefit of the doubt for a second, they can’t know everything, so it’s best to do your own research about what kind of safety features a car comes with. This is easy enough, as visiting an automaker’s official website on a vehicle and checking out the features or specs page is the best way to see what features come standard.
This is a question that may require you to look into the future a bit or do some research on what kind of local and state incentives you’re eligible for. Gas prices won’t be cheap forever, and some states are planning to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the near future. Do some research on where charging stations are, how much range you actually need, and how much money the government will give you to purchase an electrified vehicle.
If you think new cars are pricier than ever, you’re not wrong. New cars are crazy expensive, and some models can be really hard to find. You might be looking at waiting a few months to get your new car or having to custom order a model and waiting a year. If you’re not interested in waiting, a used car might be more readily available, though you’re likely to pay a premium for being able to take it home the same day.
Don’t plan to go off-roading and live in an area where you don’t get snow? You probably don’t need all-wheel drive. If off-roading is your thing, then you might have to do some research on what trims of a specific model are best suited for off-roading, meaning you’ll probably need a four-wheel drive.
The same goes for features. If you hate the cold and want something with heated seats and a heated steering wheel, then you shouldn’t have to compromise, especially at current prices. You should have a list of must-haves and things that would be nice to have. Try not to get roped into paying extra for a car with things you don’t want, which is a common selling tactic to make you pay more.
With all of the markups that are currently happening, it’s important to know what the vehicle’s manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, is. This is what an automaker believes a car should cost, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to pay that price; dealers can add markups to drive prices up based on demand. It’s horrible and automakers should do something about it, but they won’t. Just be sure to ask for the MSRP up front so you know how high the markup and other fees are.
This question is especially important if you’re buying a used car or a certified-preowned (CPO) vehicle. A lightly used vehicle that’s only a few years old may still have some of its original warranty coverage left. It’s important to know how long an automaker will stand by a used car and what parts are covered.
A lot of new vehicles now come with some kind of free maintenance plan. Whether that means a few free oil changes or tire rotations, it’s good to know what’s complementary with your purchase, as it could sway you toward a certain car.
This one is mostly for used vehicles, as the chance of your new car being on the lot after being through a large crash is slim. While some shady salespeople will try to skirt questions on accidents, it’s still a good idea to ask in the hopes that they’ll be forthcoming. It could also be a good segue into requesting to see the vehicle’s CarFax, which hopefully should have information like accidents and maintenance on it.
Again, this is mostly for a used vehicle. The kind of aftermarket parts the previous owner used can say a lot about how the vehicle was used. If there are a lot of high-performance engine parts, upgraded suspension parts, stronger brakes, and stickier tires, there’s a good chance the used car was pushed hard or used for racing. If the aftermarket parts are cosmetic or non-performance related, like an audio system, there’s less reason to be worried about the car having gone through a rough life.
In this day and age, when most people are paying above MSRP for new vehicles, incentives and rebates are becoming rare. It’s still a good idea to ask, as things like student discounts, loyalty incentives, and rebates on older — but still new — models could be available.
Most dealerships have their own in-house financing teams. Usually, they’ll have some kind of financing in place for buyers. Unfortunately, dealer rates tend to be higher than third-party rates, which means that you can save money by choosing your own lender. The process of buying a vehicle with a third-party loan is more complicated than going with a dealer, so finding what kind of rates your dealership has could be worth it.
If you’re looking to trade in your current car for a new one, you should do some research to get a rough idea about how much it’s worth from websites like Kelly Blue Book, Black Book, Carvana, and CarMax. If you get an offer from CarMax or Carvana, it’s a good idea to print the paper out or have easy access to it on your phone to show the dealership. Most of the time, dealers will match offers from CarMax or Carvana.
Flipping a desirable car can be a quick way to make a large amount of money. At the height of the pandemic several vehicles, including Ford’s F-150 Lightning and the Tesla Model S, were being flipped for tens of thousands of dollars above MSRP. But attempting to flip a Rolls-Royce in a similar way may ensure you never get your hands on one again.
The luxury auto manufacturer has stated that anyone caught flipping a particularly limited or desirable Rolls will be blacklisted for life. While speaking to Car and Dealer magazine, the company’s CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says:  ‘[If they sell the car on] they’re going immediately on a blacklist and this is it — you will never ever have the chance to acquire again.’
You can learn a lot about your car by looking at your tire wear patterns. Reading tread depth with a quarter or a penny is helpful for knowing when you have to change your tires. Likewise, learning what the numbers on the sidewall mean is a crucial part of car ownership, but there’s a lot more you can learn from your car’s tires to keep them well-maintained.
Instead of looking at the side of your tire, you’ll want to check out the actual tread from the front or top of the tire. Obviously, this is a lot easier when the tire is off the car. Once you take a closer look at the tread wear, you can see if your car is out of balance, if your tire is under or overinflated, if the suspension is worn out, or if your car is in need of alignment.
This isn’t black magic, and you don’t have to go to school for it. All you have to do is look at pictures online from BFGoodrich and then match them to your tire. It couldn’t be easier. If you want, you could also visit this YouTube channel that outlines the different types of tire wear patterns and their causes.
Types of wear patterns
Tire wear patterns refer to the specific patterns that develop on a tire’s surface over time due to different driving styles over various terrain. These patterns can provide valuable insight into the condition of the tire and can help identify underlying issues with your vehicle’s suspension, alignment, or tire maintenance. Armed with the information gleaned from tire wear patterns, mechanics and car owners can make informed decisions regarding tire replacement or necessary repairs.
In addition, there are many irregular wear patterns that you should look out for on your tires: one-sided wear, shoulder step wear, erosion or river wear, depression wear (center, intermediate, and shoulder), diagonal wear, radial feather wear, and multiple flat spotting wear. We’ll cover some of the more common tire pattern wear types below for you to explore.
Yet, before casting your eye below, note that many of these wear patterns are caused by your tire alignment, which is made up of camber, toe, and caster. Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the tires as viewed from the front, which makes them look like leaning buildings. Toe is the side-to-side difference between the front tires, which makes them look like they’re bowed. Caster refers to the slope of the steering axis.
Now that the explanation is out of the way, let’s take a look.
One-sided wear
This one is easy to spot. One side of your tire will be more worn out than the other. Pretty simple, right? If you find that your tire is suffering from one-sided wear on the outer edge, it means that your car’s positive camber, caster, or toe is out of whack. If it’s happening to the inside of the tire, you’ll have to get your car’s negative toe, and camber checked.
The world of classic cars has a shockingly low barrier to entry. You can buy an old muscle car or a classic European roadster for a few thousand dollars. But as with every other aspect of life, having a decent budget helps.
If you come to the party with six figures to spend, you can get a show-worthy example of most people’s Holy Grail vehicles. You can still buy something a little beat up and restore it to its former glory. But in this case, the fixed-up version will be worth several hundred thousand dollars and is the kind of thing you can hand over to RM Sotheby’s when you’re bored with it and want to refill your coffers for a new project.
The Essential Guide for MenThe Manual is simple — we show men how to live a life that is more engaged. As our name implies, we offer a suite of expert guides on a wide range of topics, including fashion, food, drink, travel, and grooming. We don’t boss you around; we’re simply here to bring authenticity and understanding to all that enriches our lives as men on a daily basis.


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