How to buy a *NEW* car in India

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It’s a buyers market out there and the ball is no longer in the dealerships’ court. Gone are the days of the Premier Padmini and the Hindustan Ambassador being your only choices for a new car. With most major international brands available in a showroom near you, it’s never been a better time to buy a car.

Team-BHP lists recommendations and precautions that Indian car buyers should take to get the best out of their new car purchases.

Step One : Homework

  • Budgeting:
    The purchase price is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to total cost of ownership. Research a car’s future depreciation by looking at used car values in your city and make a point of finding information on fuel efficiency, service costs and insurance premiums. Visit this article for a complete guide to the total cost of ownership.
  • The right car:
    After deciding on your price range you should outline what sort of car best meets your needs – if you are a family of two you shouldn’t bother buying a large MUV like the Toyota Innova. With a growing range of makes and models you will probably find that several cars fit your budget. Look through Team-BHP reviews to see what owners have to say about their machines. Consider how long you plan to keep your car and how your needs may change with time – kids (future) can make a big difference here. Analyze your needs before you decide on a car. 
  • New or used:
    Because of high depreciation rates there are many mouth-watering deals available on used cars. To decide which is best for you, view this article: Buying a New Car vs Used Car.
  • Diesel or petrol:
    Common-rail technology has brought diesels to a level of performance and reliability that is at least equal to that of petrol cars. New age diesels are lightning fast, super efficient and offer better drivability than petrols, but there is a price premium to pay. Some diesels can work out cheaper if you view them from an EMI's perspective (EMI + monthly running cost). 
  • Options:
    Team-BHP highly recommends safety options such as ABS (anti-lock braking system), airbags and traction control systems. Consider cars that offer these options; ABS + airbags are becoming popular even amongst hatchbacks! Understandably, these life-saving features will cost extra. In our opinion, they are well worth it. 
  • Newer generations:
    In most cases, don’t buy a car model that is about to be discontinued – you’ll regret it when you need to find spares and your accountant won’t like the resale value either. Car models are marginally improved each year with significant model upgrades every 4 to 5 years. Look within the Team-BHP forums for information on pending automotive launches. 
  • Manufacturer research:
    Many Daewoo Cielo and Peugeot 309 owners regret buying their cars just before the manufacturer closed shop in India. Find information about the manufacturer’s business in India before you sign on the dotted line. 
  • Use the “pinch of salt” rule:
    Advertisements and salesmen can be misleading sources of information and their claims should always be taken with a pinch of salt. Verify important points with car owners and look within the Team-BHP forum for first-hand reviews. 
  • Avoid unauthorized dealerships:
    Unauthorized car dealers have some tempting advertisements offering very low prices. Do not buy from an unofficial dealership; shady practices pay the bills for most of these companies and you will likely end up paying the price difference in maintenance / other headaches in the long run.
  • The best time:
    Periods like Shraad are dry seasons for dealerships; many buyers stay away for superstitious reasons making it a good time for a discount. Unless you are buying a car in your company’s name and must buy at a certain time for depreciation benefits, shop around during these dry spells. Even so, you should avoid buying a car in December; by waiting less than a month your car will be a year newer on paper. 

Step Two : The Test Drive

  • Test drive yourself:
    Never buy a car based solely on someone else’s opinion, even if it is that of a world-renowned automotive expert. What is right for someone else may not be right for you; think about details like the comfort of the driving position and engine responsiveness. A one-kilometer test drive will reveal nothing – go for a comprehensive test drive in traffic, on open roads and up and down hills. Even if you are not inclined toward other choices in the market, drive them anyway. Sometimes the best buys can be found in the least expected places.
  • Second opinion:
    It can be valuable to bring a friend or relative with you on the test drive, even if they have only a basic knowledge of cars. They can offer unbiased comments or opinions that will help you in making the right decision.
  • Everything in writing:
    It’s common practice with car dealerships to promise the world (discounts, free accessories, etc.) but not deliver on closing day. Make certain that every commitment made by the dealer is written down and signed on their letter-head.  
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