How to avoid car- buying regrets

June 2, 2014

Nothing beats the feeling you get when you climb into your newly purchased car and drive it home – from adjusting the seat and mirrors to loading your favorite set of music to make your ride more enjoyable – it is an incredible experience all new car lovers crave for.

However, the blissful memory can turn into a sour experience- more than the savage pains of regret– when you come face to face with the fact that you made a wrong or hurried choice.

While, all consumers make rash decisions at one point or another, but when you do it with a car,  you may end up paying for it for a long time.

A hurried choice can cost a consumer to lose his years’ of savings or lead to defaults in car loan repayments, should the car chosen,  turn out to be unsatisfactory in terms of comfort, encounter numerous breakdowns, consume more fuel than what was expected of it and attract heavily reduced value following depreciation.

Thus, buying a car- especially a second hand car can be a daunting experience.

The Consumer Council of Fiji has handled eighty one (81) cases relating to cars (brand new and second-hand), in the past three years till date where consumers ended up with defective cars, car not being delivered on time, no spare parts or back up service being available for certain brand of cars and faulty cars being sold unsuspectingly.

Such complaints continue to be received by the Council. And all matters handled show high costs incurred by consumers, some of who have spent their lifelong savings to obtain a car or have taken up a huge loan to make the purchase.

In order to lower the possibilities of getting into a wrong  deal, the Council has the following advice for consumers:

  • Shop for the right kind of car – Choosing a class of car that is going to be a good fit for you will ensure that you won’t regret your purchase later. Take the time to recognize exactly what you need your car to do: Do you need space for family and friends? Do you often drive off-road or on gravelled road? What’s more important to you- fuel, mileage or performance? Ask yourself the right questions about what capabilities you need your car to have and make a wise choice.
  • Follow your budget – avoid buying a Car You Can’t Afford! It’s tempting to convince yourself that you can stretch your budget to accommodate a bigger car payment than you can really handle. If you fall into this trap, you’re going to end up having to cut other conveniences in order to make your car payment. And to top it up, you’re risking your credit if you end up defaulting on the car loan or miss payments on other things.
  • Look out for cars with mechanical problems – One of the most important parts of the car buying process is doing your best to ensure that the vehicle you’re buying isn’t going to need costly repairs. There are a lot of used vehicles out there that have been repaired after accidents or after floods. It’s a smart thing to have a qualified mechanic to check the vehicle you’re considering purchasing before you make a commitment. Consumers can also seek advice from the Land Transport Authority regarding their vehicle prior to purchasing it.
  • Test drive the car you are intending to buy- there is no better way to figure out whether the car suits you well, is comfortable enough and in good working condition then to test drive it.                                                        
  • Avoid being pressured into a purchase – We’ve all experienced it. Shopping around for just the right fit, and all of a sudden a persuasive salesman is trying to get you to make a decision on the spot; you don’t know what to do. The most important thing is that you don’t let yourself be pushed into a purchase you might later regret.
  • Check for back- up services/ spare parts – ensure the brand of car you are settling for has back up service and spare parts available locally. It will be difficult and sometimes impossible to buy spare parts for unknown brands not generally sold in Fiji market.
  • Check for warranty – when making purchase, enquire about the warranty period and what aspects of damages or breakdowns are covered under it. It is important to note that not everything is covered under warranty.
  • Do your research and car service history checks – if you know the brand and car you are after, do all necessary check.  If you are opting for second hand vehicle then make sure to do a vehicle history check; including details such as mileage.