So you want to buy a new car. It’s an exciting and daunting task! I was reminded of that when I bought a car last weekend. Not only is the actual car buying process in the dealership a long one, but the research it takes to get to that point is long and involved as well. However, a well-researched purchase will make you happy for years to come.
Here are a few car buying tips to help you get on your way:
- Decide what type of car you’re interested in buying. By that I mean to ask yourself – do you want to buy a sports car, a small car, small SUV, regular SUV, truck, motorcycle, moped…you get the idea.
- Once you’ve decided on the size car you want to buy, look at the makes and models in that particular class. Do you like the look of any specific one? Try to narrow down your search to just the few that you’re interested in investigating.
- Not to be forgotten is your budget! You probably have an idea of how much you can afford to pay for a car payment each month. Go online to a site like bankrate.com to get a rough estimate of how much that means you’d be able to afford to finance. That will tell you the top price you can pay for a car. Then it’s up to you to determine if you have enough in savings to put a down payment on the car. Also remember your current car that you may consider trading in – check out what a fair price may be for the trade-in value on Kelly Blue Book.
- Purchase a membership to Consumer Reports. It costs $30 a year and it will be well worth the money. Once you’re a member, you can research the reliability, satisfaction, and safety ratings of the cars you’re investigating. If you’re buying a used car, pay particular attention to the reliability ratings of each model year – you may find there are certain model years that you should avoid.
- Search for the car model and year in Edmunds.com to see what a fair price to pay is for that particular car.
- Make a note of all the features you’re looking for in a car. You may not find a car with all those features, but if will be a good starting point.
- Now you’re ready to start looking for available vehicles to test drive. You can find available cars by searching local dealership websites, checking cars.com, searching Consumer Reports online, and searching Edmunds.com, to name a few. Look at the mileage on each car, year, and color. Investigate each listing to determine if you’re interested in the car.
- Have fun test driving the cars you’ve found! After you’ve test driven a few, you’ll be able to decide which model you like best.
- When you go to the dealership, know your budget and stick to it! They are great at trying to upsell you on features you don’t need. Stand firm in your budget and know the fair price that you should pay for the car and insist you get it!
- It’s helpful if you don’t fall in love with any of the cars you’re interested in – your greatest negotiation tool is being able to walk away.
This process can be overwhelming, especially in the dealership. Consider bringing a friend who can help keep you on track with your budget or any other aspect you feel may be helpful. And most of all, enjoy your new car!
Optional: Come up with a fun name for your car. Here are the names of my cars so far: The Beast, Black Beauty, Esmerelda, Shirley Temple, and Ruby Sparkler! 🙂
Fun fact for today: An estimated 16.9 million cars were sold in the US in 2014! (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/06/business/us-auto-sales-jump-for-2014.html)