When thinking about buying a car, there are many things to consider.
Especially, when buying a vehicle here in Jamaica. Remember that most of Jamaica’s roads aren’t vehicle friendly which means you have to be very careful, particularly when buying a used car.
Potential buyers must assess available transportation needs and budgets before deciding on a purchase.
There is much more to think about than simply the cost of the vehicle itself. Use these tips below as a guide when considering your next car purchase.
1. Mandatory Costs
Before you even begin thinking about what car you want or how much money you have for a down payment, you need to create a budget for your new vehicle from scratch.
This includes costs such as licensing fees, taxes, insurance premiums, fuel costs and annual maintenance expenses.
You also need to include monthly payments in this number. Make sure they fit within your monthly budget.
2. Will You Keep It for 10 Years
A car is a depreciable asset that will lose value over time, so it’s important to consider whether you’re going to keep the vehicle for at least 10 years.
If you plan on trading in your car before then, or your family grows and another car is required, opt for a smaller model with lower monthly payments so you can avoid being underwater when it comes to selling time.
3. What Car Brand Do You Want
Since automakers have different overhead expenses and these costs are transferred onto the consumer through product pricing, certain brands offer better deals than others.
For example, in Jamaica car brands such+ as BMW, VW, Mercedes Benz and Honda have the highest repair and maintenance costs.
On top of that, for all car brands list above there’s only one main authorized dealer here in Jamaica, ATL Automotive. Which means when you need a new part for your vehicle you have little to no options to shop around for the best price.
Whatever price ATL quote that’s what you’ll have to pay and to be honest, ATL Automotive is very expensive for most Jamaicans.
On the other hand, if you get any of the Toyota car brands you have a full sea of options plus they’re much more affordable and reliable.
4. Consider the Used Car Market
Jamaica has a huge used car market which means there will be good options and bad ones.
While new cars tend to depreciate more than used cars, they also retain better value over time.
As a general rule of thumb, consider opting for a used vehicle in good condition if you plan on keeping it for fewer than five years or so.
This will allow you to purchase something in great shape and at a reasonable price while still maintaining better resale value than if you purchased an older model in poor condition and kept it around for several additional years.
If you’re not knowledgeable in vehicles, make sure to carry someone like a mechanic you trust or family member who knows what to look out for.
5. Minimize Depreciation During the First Two Years
If possible, try not to drive your car off the lot when purchasing it.
Instead, take advantage of dealer financing and have your new car delivered straight to your home or office.
This will minimize depreciation and protect your investment.
Similarly, you can minimize depreciation by keeping a car in good condition.
While this means always making sure the oil is changed on time and regular auto maintenance is performed, it also means purchasing a vehicle that will hold up over time and not be easily damaged while being driven daily.
6. Consider Moderately Priced Car Segments
Rather than paying top dollar for a luxury model with more features than you need, opt for more moderately priced models from upscale brands.
Luxury brand vehicles start at around $USD 30,000 while some of their less expensive counterparts from similar marques cost closer to $USD 20,000 before additional fees and taxes are taken into account.
This will not only save you money, but also give you the chance to opt for other features you might need more than status symbols.
7. Use Customer Reviews
If possible, try to find reviews of different makes and models before buying a car.
There are many impartial sources out there that offer genuine insight into how consumers feel about certain brands and vehicles within their segments.
You can often find this information online or simple ask friends and family who own a similar vehicle to the one you want.
8. Think About Your Daily Commute
If your daily commute is long, consider buying a mid-size model with excellent gas mileage (at least 33 mpg) since you’ll be spending so much time in your vehicle anyway.
These tend to be more affordable and will save you money over time.
Consider vehicles between 1.5 – 1.8 Liters, you’ll save a lot of money on gas.
9. Test Drive Before Buying
Never buy a vehicle with test driving it with a mechanic or someone who’s knowledgeable about vehicles.
Test driving it will give you a quick idea about the current health of the vehicle. This goes especially for used vehicles driven on Jamaica roads.
Not because it look pretty on the outside means it runs good.
10. Consider Relative Costs of Maintenance
When considering new cars, opt for those with lower maintenance costs since they’ll likely hold their value better over time according to studies done by automotive experts.
For instance, some models from Japanese manufacturers have been found to require less regular maintenance than competing European or American brands due to their high-quality parts and materials.
11. Think About the Cost of Insurance
If you have a good driving record, consider buying an affordable new car with low insurance rates to save money in this area.
This is especially important if you travel frequently since it’s much more expensive to insure a high-performance vehicle that might be in a different state or town on a regular basis.
12. Choose Your Financing Carefully
Many dealers will try to get you to accept financing through them rather than your bank or credit union but there are often better deals to be found on your own.
Take some time to compare your options and make sure you’re getting the best rates possible from a reputable lending source.
This is generally more important than finding a dealer that offers low monthly payments since interest rates have a more significant effect on overall costs.
13. Understand Your Insurance Coverage
Before buying a car in Jamaica, double-check that the model you choose will work with your existing insurance policy or if you need new quotes for additional coverage.
If you already know what deductible you want, this may impact the final cost of the vehicle as well so shop accordingly.
14. Purchase Used Cars Wisely
If it’s not feasible for you to buy new, consider shopping around for used cars instead of settling on whatever deal you first find.
For instance, a 1 or 2 year old model with low mileage will often be more competitively priced than a new one that’s been sitting on the lot for many months.
In closing, if you’re considering buying a car in Jamaica it pays to do your homework and shop around as much as possible before making the final decision.
In this way, you can get the best deal possible and ensure that it fits your budget as well as any other requirements you might have. These tips should help save time and perhaps even money when finding the perfect vehicle for your needs.