Auto satisfaction is the highest it’s ever been according to the latest results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Thankfully, today the auto market is hyper-competitive and we’ve seen amazing strides in engineering and design. That’s led to record satisfaction with what people are driving.
America is #1
The ACSI tally lists Lincoln (Ford) as the highest rated brand with a strong score of 87 out of a possible 100 points.
Following behind in the list for the top five spots you have Honda, BMW, Toyota and GMC (GM).
Honda historically does awesome in most customer satisfaction surveys. But they were edged out for a second year by Lincoln.
The lowest score was earned by Acura, which is actually a division of Honda, earning a 76 on the tally.
Getting ready to buy a new car? Here’s how to do it…
Here’s how to buy a new car
Pre-qualify the smart way
First, go to your credit union, online bank or traditional bank and pre-qualify for a car loan (or apply online.) That tells you how much car you can afford and what type of monthly payment you will have to budget.
Dealers will typically mark up a loan by about 2% on the average car purchase. That’s why Clark so strongly recommends you secure financing on your own as a first step. And remember, never take out an auto loan for longer than 42 months!
Do your research online
Start your research with at least two different vehicles in mind. Then check out the price, reliability, and cost to insure each of the cars you’re considering. Check out the annual April auto issue from Consumer Reports for their list of recommended new car buys. If you’re not a member, you can pay for one-time access or borrow it from your local library.
Check dealer cost and build out the options you want
Next, use the Internet to find out the dealer cost of the vehicle and the options you want. Websites like Edmunds.com, KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book) and NADA.com offer great tools that will help you determine the value.
Get instant price quotes online
When you’ve narrowed the search to one or two vehicles and have the actual dealer cost for each, shop online for instant price quotes. Websites such as CarsDirect.com, TrueCar.com, Overstock.com and USAA are great for this purpose. Costco has a car-buying program that moved 400,000 vehicles last year alone!
If you prefer not to buy online, use the online price quotes as a guideline and call the dealers to see if they’ll match the price quote.
Another relatively easy way to buy a car involves emailing the Internet department at a dealership and negotiating by email. Make sure you always ask for a quote that includes all the junk fees a dealer may have.
If you do choose to negotiate with a traditional car dealer, be prepared for a difficult process. When you go into the dealer to sign the paperwork, make sure what is on the purchase agreement is what you’ve agreed to previously by phone or fax. If it’s not the same, do not go through with the deal. The best way to protect yourself in a dealership is to be willing to walk out.
Watch out for junk fees
Some dealers are charging ‘packs,’ which are phony charges for documents, vehicle etching, fabric treatments, etc. It may sound silly, but it can amount to $300 or more just for doing the paperwork or spraying some stuff on your car seats! Not every dealer tries to do this, so that’s why it’s important to shop around.
Read more: 5 things to know before buying a used car