Buy Or Lease a Car Like a Pro: 8 Common Mistakes To Avoid

Are you looking to buy or lease a car, but you’re worried about paying too much or walking away with the wrong car?

Unfortunately, this happens to all too many people. One study even found that a whopping 70% of customers report buyer’s remorse shortly after signing on to a car deal. The most common complaints are feeling ripped off by salespeople, getting talked into a car with too many or too few features, or buying a car on impulse.

The power is in your hands to avoid these pitfalls. Check out these 8 common mistakes that car buyers make, and learn how to avoid them.

1. Looking for the wrong car.

There’s a car for everyone, but not every car is for everyone.

Revved-up sports car for a family of five? Not great.

Massive SUV for a single person just going around town? Also not so great.

Many people end up frustrated with car shopping or unhappy with the car they buy simply because they don’t look for the car that’s actually right for them.

Before you even start searching for a new vehicle, consider your needs as a driver. Be honest with yourself. You might itch for something fast, flashy or powerful over any terrain, but do you really need it?

A car is a big investment and a big part of your life. Choose practicality over trendiness.

2. Getting attached to a model.

Another common mistake is to fall in love with a specific model at the dealership. Many customers get attached to a car and decide that they simply must have it, even if it’s not ideal for them.

When people get starry-eyed over a flashy new car, they often will overlook all the ways it doesn’t fit their criteria or their budget. They won’t take time to research other vehicles that might serve their needs better.

Plus, this approach is a sure way to fall on the wrong side of price negotiation.

Instead, try to maintain an even, neutral attitude. Keep a list of the pro’s and con’s of every model you consider.

3. Putting too many optional features on your “must have” list.

A list of “must have” features is essential. You need a car that will really work for you, that has all the functionality and features that will make your life easier.

This list will be your guidepost throughout the buying process.

Your list should be comprehensive, so you don’t end up with a vehicle that can’t get the job done. However, you must be careful not to allow too many optional features to slip onto it.

Leather seats are nice, built-in WiFi hotspots are cool and video screens for the back seats might make the kids happy, but are they necessary?

Setting your heart on a bunch of special features will make it hard to find a car that satisfies you. You’ll overlook a lot of vehicles that could suit your needs perfectly well.

If you have trouble drawing the line between “must have” and “really want,” I recommend dividing your features list into three sections:

  • Must have (actual essentials)
  • Should have (features you really want but can live without)
  • Could have (features you would like but definitely don’t need, just to look out for)

This hopefully will give you some more clarity and flexibility.

4. Skipping the research.

man looking at papers on wall

The initial steps of buying or leasing a car can and should be done from the comfort of your own home.

Before you set foot in a dealership, do some basic research. Check out what vehicles fit your profile and get some quotes. By the time you talk to a dealer, you should have narrowed down your options to a few models, settled your list of features and have a sense of what you can expect to pay.

Skipping your homework makes it easy for unscrupulous salespeople to pressure you into buying a car you don’t want or paying more than you need to.

5. Hurrying into a purchase.

Take your time with car shopping. Rushing into a purchase or lease agreement is a sure way to end up with buyer’s remorse.

Always consider the alternatives and don’t agree to anything on the spot, no matter how much pressure a pushy salesperson might lay on you. Your own research and online reviews are your best friends.

Most importantly, don’t skip the test drive! It’s very common for a car to sound great on paper, and look amazing in the glossy sales brochure, but when you get behind you wheel you find it just doesn’t feel right. Maybe the visibility is off, it drives rough or the seats just aren’t comfortable.

It’s impossible to know these things until you try the car out for yourself.

6. Going beyond your budget.

piggy bank

Don’t let a salesperson convince you to go above your budget. Yes, they will make it sound like for just a few hundred (or thousand) dollars more than you were planning to spend, you will get the car of your dreams… while if you stick to your plan, all you can get is junk on wheels.

It’s just not true. Honestly, there are great cars out there for every budget.

If you decide from the beginning on the maximum price you can afford, stick to that decision. Be very firm and clear with the salespeople. Don’t look at cars you can’t afford, not even “just to get an idea of what’s out there.”

It sounds so easy before you start shopping, and feels so hard when you’re in the thick of it. So make it simple again: remember you can afford exactly what you can afford, and if you draw a firm line you’re sure to find something great within your budget.

7. Making mistakes in negotiation.

Many car customers focus only on the monthly payment, and salespeople often encourage this. The first question you hear in a negotiation is often something like, “How much are you thinking of paying every month?”

When you only look at the monthly payment as a lump sum, it’s hard to tell if you’re getting a fair deal on each element of the price. You may also end up paying more in interest if you get hooked into a lengthy loan period. (This is a trick known as “interest-rate bumping.”)

First settle on the price of the vehicle itself. Then insist on negotiating one thing at a time: trade-in value, financing or leasing terms, etc.

8. Not working with an expert.

man giving car keys

Buying or leasing a car can seem like a complicated, overwhelming process.

To be honest, it can be. As a customer, you probably only buy a car every few years at most, making it even harder to stay on top of everything involved.

That’s why it’s a good idea for most people to have an expert on their side. This might be a professional auto broker, someone who’s job it is to find the best deals and take care of the messy business.

You can also get support from a reputable, customer-oriented car dealership. Not every company actually has its customers’ best interests at heart, but some will go the extra mile to help their clients find the perfect car within their budget.

Capital Motor Cars is one such dealership. Their team of experts is here to guide clients through every step of leasing a car. If you have any questions or you’re ready to get started, contact Capital Motor Cars today.


Success in car shopping boils down to three critical points: doing your own research, being clear with yourself about your needs, and being firm about what you want with salespeople.

Clarity is always the best policy!

Besides this, take into account the value of your time, and your ability to navigate the rough waters of car searching and negotiation. With this in mind, you might consider going to a professional, such as an auto broker or a trustworthy dealership.

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