10 Frugal Habits You Shouldn’t Use When Car Shopping

10 Frugal Habits You Shouldn’t Use When Car Shopping

When it comes to car shopping, many people turn to their frugal habits to save money. However, not all frugal habits are created equal; some can lead to higher costs in the long run.

In this article, I share ten frugal habits you shouldn’t use when car shopping and how avoiding these habits can lead to a more financially sound car purchase.

Frugal Habits in Car Shopping That May Not Benefit You in the Long Run

  1. Skipping the vehicle test drive to save time
  2. Always opting for the oldest, cheapest car available
  3. Forgoing a professional inspection for used vehicles to reduce costs
  4. Neglecting to explore financing options and solely focusing on paying cash
  5. Disregarding insurance costs when budgeting for a car purchase
  6. Ignoring the future resale value of a vehicle and only considering the upfront price
  7. Overlooking potential maintenance costs for the vehicles under consideration
  8. Failing to contemplate future needs when selecting a car
  9. Rushing the research process on vehicles, financing options, and dealerships to save time
  10. Negotiating aggressively to the point of straining relationships with dealerships

Avoiding the Test Drive

One frugal habit to avoid when car shopping is skipping the test drive. While it may seem like a time-saver, test-driving a car before purchasing is crucial. It lets you get a feel for the car’s performance, comfort, and potential issues that may not be apparent otherwise.

Skipping the test drive can lead to regret and dissatisfaction if the vehicle doesn’t meet your expectations or has problems you would have noticed during a test drive.

Not Buying Close to New

Another frugal habit to reconsider is always buying the oldest, cheapest car available. While buying used can save money upfront, sometimes a one or two-year-old car is a better investment.

These cars often have remaining warranties, better fuel efficiency, and lower maintenance costs than older models. Considering the long-term costs, buying a slightly newer car can be a wiser financial decision.

Saving Money on the Vehicle Inspection

Another frugal habit to avoid is skipping a professional inspection to save money when buying a used car. A thorough inspection can identify potential issues that could lead to costly repairs.

Paying for an inspection upfront can save you from expensive surprises later on. Hidden problems like engine issues, transmission problems, or structural damage can be detected during an inspection, helping you make a more informed decision.

Not Looking Into Financing

Ignoring financing options and paying cash for a car is a frugal habit that may not always be in your best interest. Even if you have the money to buy a vehicle outright, exploring financing options can be beneficial.

Favorable financing terms can allow you to keep your money invested elsewhere, potentially earning more than the interest you would pay on a car loan. It’s essential to consider all your options and determine which approach makes the most financial sense for your situation.

Ignoring Insurance Costs

Focusing solely on the purchase price of a car and ignoring insurance costs is another frugal habit to avoid. Vehicles have varying insurance rates based on make, model, and safety features.

A vehicle with a lower purchase price but higher insurance costs could be more expensive in the long run. Before deciding, research insurance rates for the cars you’re considering and factor those costs into your overall budget.

Not Looking at the Future Resale Value

Buying the cheapest car without considering its future resale value is a frugal habit that can backfire. Some vehicles depreciate faster than others, meaning they lose value more quickly over time.

When shopping for a car, research the expected resale values of the models you’re interested in. A vehicle with a higher resale value may cost more upfront but could be a better financial decision in the long run when it comes time to sell or trade in.

Not Factoring Future Maintenance Costs

Another thing to avoid when car shopping is overlooking potential maintenance costs to get a good deal on an unreliable brand. Different cars have different maintenance requirements and costs. Researching the cost of parts and labor for the vehicles you’re considering can give you a better idea of your long-term expenses.

Some cars may have higher upfront costs but lower maintenance expenses, while others may be the opposite. Consider these factors when making your decision.

Ignoring Your Future Needs

Focusing only on your current needs and ignoring your future needs is a frugal habit that can lead to buying another car sooner than expected. When shopping for a vehicle, think about how your needs might change.

A larger vehicle may be necessary if you plan on starting a family. If you’re expecting a job change that requires more travel, a more fuel-efficient car may be a better choice. Considering your long-term needs can help you choose a vehicle that will serve you well for years.

Not Doing Enough Research

Skimping on research to save time is a frugal habit that can lead to poor car-buying decisions. Thoroughly researching different vehicles, financing options, and dealerships is crucial to making an informed and financially sound choice.

Take the time to read reviews, compare prices, and explore different options. Don’t rush into a decision to save time in the short term. Think about the value proposition of your vehicle purchase, not just the price.

Negotiating Aggressively to the Point of Straining Relationships with Dealerships

While negotiating is essential when buying a car, being overly aggressive can strain dealership relationships and backfire in the long run. Frugal shoppers who take negotiation to the extreme may find dealerships less willing to work with them in the future or provide service and help when needed.

It’s crucial to balance negotiating a fair price with maintaining a positive relationship with the dealership. Focus on finding a mutually beneficial agreement and approach negotiations collaboratively to secure a good deal while fostering a valuable long-term relationship.


When car shopping, it’s essential to distinguish between frugal habits that save you money and those that can cost you more in the long run. By avoiding the frugal habits discussed in this article, you can purchase a more financially sound car.

Remember to prioritize value and long-term costs over short-term savings. Test drive before you buy, consider slightly newer models, invest in inspections, explore financing options, factor in insurance and maintenance costs, consider future needs, do thorough research, and don’t skip professional inspections.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to making an intelligent and financially savvy car purchase.