Buying a new or used Audi soon? We know you will take pride in ownership, but ownership starts at the purchase and we’d like to make sure you have a good experience and get a great deal. Here are some car buying tips and tricks to keep in mind-many you’ve already heard, but they’re important and shouldn’t be overlooked especially if buying from a private party.
How much can you afford?
First off, your credit scores. This rating is formulated to determine your payback ability. Credit scores are usually referred to as FICO scores. As a general rule, if you’re FICO score is low; your interest rate on your loan will be high. Make sure you know exactly how much you can afford in monthly payments before you sit behind the wheel. You’ll only be kicking yourself if you make your credit even worse by not being able to make the car’s monthly payment down the road should something unexpected happen to your finances.
Since cars will always decrease in value, rather than increase like a home may, plan on losing money and don’t sweat it—it’s the cost of owning a car. You may be able to get a killer deal if you buy used, but most often you won’t be able to make money when it comes time to sell. At any rate, always know the actual market value of the car. When you look for a used Audi on AutoTrader or Craigslist for example, or a local classified ad, don’t take the asking prices as actual selling prices. You can always negotiate. Make sure that the asking price is actually in the ballpark via Kelley Blue Book’s Audi page. On a page like used Audis for sale list for example, the prices indicated are only dealer asking prices. Usually much can be cut off of these.
Now if you’re buying new or getting financing from a used car lot, obtaining your FICO score beforehand gives you an edge on negotiating. If you don’t know your credit score then the dealer may try and sneak in a higher-than-should-be rate without you knowing. If you know you have good credit (above 700, for example) you can ask for their best deals right off the bat. Once you know your credit score and how much you can afford, determine a ballpark out the out-the-door cost for the car you’d like, minus the down payment, so you can figure how much you will owe. Everything you need to know about your credit and car buying at the Credit Center.
It’s always nice to have a pre-approved auto loan before you step foot on a dealer lot though. Right away you’ll have an idea of what to expect. You can do get free auto loan quotes easily on many websites that offer it. Although they won’t be guarantees of what an other lender will give you, you can use a preapproval to walk into the dealership with. These checks are normally only good for 45 days–which is plenty of time to search for that Audi you’ve always wanted. Keep in mind that 0 % financing only applies to those with great credit history. The best tip is to keep an eye out for deals put out my manufacturers.
Things to look out for when buying Audi
The most common Audi problems happen in some area of the electrical components. It’s a bummer, but the same is true for other meticulously engineered cars such as Ferrari and (gasp!) BMW. For example, various displays may goes out, brake lights can stay on, or power window switches may burn out. Not difficult fixes, but unless you’re covered by a warranty or you can fix it yourself, they are expensive. A good way to hedge against picking up a bad year or a bad model is to read the recalls and actual user reviews for the particular year you’re interested in. For example, if I was in the market for a 2003 A4, I’d take a look at this page from Edmunds or this from Automobile Magazine.
Like with any other car, make sure you’re not buying a salvaged or junked car. Some of these shady bodyshops can fix up a totaled vehicle so nice that most people can’t even tell. Make sure you check the car’s CarFax. You’ll need to get vehicle’s VIN number),and although this can’t screen for unreported accidents, we’ve had a very good experience with Carfax reports so far.
Also if you’re going through a private seller, ask them if they have receipts of any maintenance done. They should have some of them, if not all. Most luxury car owners are organized and keep records of such things. If there were significant repairs performed, you may want to visit the shop and ask them about any previous work done. If you know somebody with the same Audi model that you want, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask them if they’ve had any major problems themselves either.
Be a little worried about scams. There are some greedy used car (and new car) dealerships out there that would like to sell the car to you and possibly not tell you about something. Some may lie, or even break the law to get their way. Buying from an individual seller can be cheaper than buying from an established dealer, although, you can potentially run into more scam artists or shady people this way. Don’t worry too much about it though, many times people who are selling their current Audi or other nice car are simply looking to upgrade to a better one, or maybe they just need the cash (you can usually negotiate a reasonable price with these people, especially if they’re in a tough situation financially).
Some must-ask questions when buying from a private party.
- Are they the original owner? If not, then who was?
- Why are they selling their Audi?
- Has the car ever been in a little accident? Nothing big, just a fender bender or anything? (Ask it exactly like this. It works much better than asking “has the car ever been hit”)
- Is the pink slip in their name?
- Will they take care of the smog/emissions testing for you?
Obviously take the car for a test drive. See how it handles, if the brakes work well, and if the acceleration is as it should be. Don’t be worried to give it a good flogging, that’s what these high-speed Autobahn cruisers were made for! Check all the interior switches and dials. Everything should work. If not, these are good negotiating points. If all this checks out, we’d still recommend to take the car to a mechanic (preferably Audi, or at the least German-only) and have them go over the car. It shouldn’t cost more than $150-200, and is well worth it.