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by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

Tips for Car Buying

Cars in a parking lot - cat buying tips

On a long car ride to go look at yet another vehicle, my husband and I counted the number of autos that we have owned since we were 16. For him, that number was 33 and for me it was 27. That’s a lot of vehicles in our short lives!  I got my love for cars while growing up. My dad always had old cars that he would fix up and sell. We’d have Mustangs, Roadrunners, Shelbys, and the list goes on.


After all of the vehicles between my husband and me, I was in awe that we have never been upside down or have never gotten a loan for more than the value of any of our autos. How did we do it?


  • We always try to sell our autos on our own. With Facebook Marketplace and Autotrader, I don’t see any reason to trade a vehicle in. Here’s what you can do:

  1. First, you will want to find what your vehicle is worth. You can do this by going visiting Kelley Blue Book. Make sure you put in all of the extras your car may have like heated seats or leather, even the color of your vehicle can make a difference in your car’s value.

  2. Second, you will want to get your car professionally detailed. This makes a huge difference when you are selling your car for sale by owner.  No one wants to see your dirty floor mats or French fries under the seat. 

  3. Third, take a lot of pictures in good lighting. I have found pictures taken outdoors look the best.

  • We also like buying cars that are being sold by an individual if at all possible. This just keeps you from paying retail on a car. More popular cars are harder to find for sale by owner than others because people tend to keep them. For example, I’ve had to search harder and longer for Toyotas, Hondas, and Subarus.

  • If you buy from a car dealership, find a salesperson that fits your personality. Just because they walk up to you and start talking to you doesn’t mean they have to be the one to sell you a car. You can always ask for the sales manager and request a different salesperson. Do not feel bad about this. This person is selling you something that costs a lot of money. Make sure you like the person.

  • Be very specific about the car that you want.  If it’s a white 2016 Honda Accord with 35,000 miles, leather and Apple Car Play, then stick with that. The car dealership may not have that exact auto, but if you have a good salesperson, they will work with you to find the car that you want. They are there to try to sell you a car…any car. They may say “I don’t have that, but I have this.” Don’t waste your (or their) time or if you aren’t interested in just ANY vehicle.

  • Buying a vehicle with lower mileage is key to not becoming upside down on an auto. The vehicle will hold its value better as you drive it. I try not to buy a vehicle that has been driven more than 12,000 miles a year.  

  • Do your research on the vehicle that you want. What are the user ratings? What are some possible issues that may come up with the vehicle? What is fair market value for the vehicle? When it comes to the value of a car that we are looking to buy, I not only look up the car on Kelley Blue Book, but I also look up car dealerships that have similar cars to see if what they have listed for the car is a fair price.

  • When it comes to financing, I’ve always been a big fan of getting my own financing. There are some fees that dealerships may charge to do your financing that your bank may not have.

The flip side of this is the dealership may have special rates because they do so much bulk financing, or the manufacturer may have special financing for new cars. If this is the case, make sure they only pull your credit one time. Don’t let them run your credit over and over again until they find the best rate for you.  Know what your credit score is and what the current interest rates are before you go into buying a car if you decide to do your financing at the car lot.  


After you sign on the dotted line, drive away in your dream car. If you are like me, my dream car changes frequently, but if you follow these tips, you will come out just fine. And, remember, after you have purchased that dream car contact your Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent to discuss auto insurance policy changes.


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