An Unlikely Pair: What You Can Learn About Car Shopping From Online Dating

2013 is around the corner and new cars will be rolling onto the lot. Approaching a purchase online is a lot like online dating. There are unwritten rules that build toward a successful and happy relationship. Unfortunately, many people are not prepared when shopping for a new vehicle and are often taken advantage of, getting less for a higher cost.

The Internet has evolved the purchasing process for nearly every industry. From buying used cars on Craigslist and car sites to buying new cars through GM's online-auction program, there's a whole new battleground out there.

How can you be sure you're getting what you you're paying for when purchasing a vehicle from an online source? Approach a prospective car like you would online dating. Sound crazy? Read on and find out how!

Figure Out What You Want

When you enter the dating world, first asses what you can manage in your personal life to make sure you end up in situations that will enhance your life, not take away from it. For example, a potential mate with lots of baggage from previous relationships is probably out of the question. When it comes to vehicles, if you're planning to take out a loan, check your credit. Your own baggage with finances does not prevent you from borrowing money to buy a car. For example, bad credit car loans from DriveTime can put you behind the wheel of a used vehicle.

Get Intel

A partner who enjoys and expects the finer things in life might not be in your best interest if you live on a budget or are trying to restore your good credit. If she prefers Cristal champagne and Prada, while you're more Miller Lite and Puma, she's probably not the right one. Likewise with your vehicle, a gas-guzzling full-size SUV might be more than you can afford. Before you start looking for a car online, break down your budget and figure out what you can afford. Knowing more about a vehicle not only gives you the power to determine if a car is worth a test drive, it provides you with ammo when bargaining for a price. Sites such as (Kelley Blue Book) and CARFAX provide accurate values and reliable car-history reports — if only dating were that easy!

Mind Your Money and Personal Information

Just as you would when you're first getting to know a person, don't divulge all of your personal stuff at once. A first date doesn't need to cover religion and political views. At the dealership, hold off sharing Social Security numbers, banking information and driver's license information until the purchase is ready to be made and you are certain the person you are buying from can be trusted.

Test Drive

Maintain the same state of mind as you would on a first date when approaching a salesman on test-drive day. Own the room, emulate confidence, keep your eye on the prize and play it off as if you're not completely sold yet. Remember that there are always plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to relationships and vehicles. Maintain control of yourself in the situation and do not allow a seller—or potential partner—to convince you to do anything you aren't comfortable with. The test drive is judgment day; the buyer gets a feel for the car to see if what the seller boasted it to be is true.

Compare Prices

Love at first sight is a rarity. Play the field and shop around. Take your time and think about the pros and cons. Compare features and incentives equally before you make any decision on which car is perfect for you. And if you aren't sure, you can always ask a friend for a second opinion.

Margaret Waters Known by her friends as "Charged Marge," because she carries has a spare set of jumper cables everywhere she goes, Margaret learned everything she knows about cars and how they function from her brothers and father. Her sons wish she would be more like the other moms, but she says when they're stuck on the side of the road without a spare, they'll be glad.
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