Car Buying Advice with Brad Cobb

Mr. Zeller's finite math students get tips from a pro.
Shopping should never be emotional. Oh, how wise is this one line? When GPS parent (and former Trustee) Brad Cobb spoke last week to Chris Zeller’s finite mathematics classes about car buying, he told the girls that any purchase—clothes, a phone, a car—should be a rational decision rather than one where emotions control the outcome.

As president of Bowers Automotive Group and with 25 years’ experience in the business, Cobb says he too often sees people come in to purchase a particular vehicle and then get swayed by a fancier, sleeker, pricier model on the lot. “There are a gazillion choices of models, trim levels, transmissions,” Cobb says. “It all comes down to what you can afford.”

Cobb admitted that buying a car is an exciting purchase, but cautioned the girls to consider its safety record and to ultimately keep whatever vehicle they buy serviced regularly. He also shared tips on researching a used car, financing, and staying out of debt.

During the Buying a New Car Project, Zeller’s students are introduced to methods of researching vehicular safety, dependability, resale value, and prior history. Terms such as Blue Book value, fair purchase price, true market value, and more are explained.

To make the project more relatable, each girl has to experience a mock car purchase. Students select a particular make, model, and year of a vehicle and explain why they chose it. Then they summarize the car-buying process along with a list and summary of the car’s safety rating. Once they determine the price of the car, they take a deeper dive into comparing used versus new prices while considering trade-in values, finance rates, credit scores, taxes, fees, and other variables.

The project concludes with a consideration of intangibles such as establishing a relationship with the dealership, investigating a dealer’s reputation, negotiations, and closing the sale.

Cobb’s visit to Zeller’s class is one part of the senior girls’ studies on mathematical topics that are useful and applicable in their daily lives and make math and its concepts relatable for all. The applications taught in finite math help students gain a level of mathematical literacy that will serve them well throughout their lives. In addition to car buying, they study personal finance, interest rates, and investments to help them become more financially astute young adults.