It’s always exciting to buy a new car, but it’s a big purchase so you don’t want to go into it without knowing what to expect. Knowing you are about to spend tens of thousands of dollars should be enough to spur you to make a good choice by doing your research and knowing what you want rather than walking onto a car lot, pointing the first car you see and saying it’s the one. Here’s what to think about before you buy a car.
1. The First Thing to Consider is Your Budget
Before you even think about stepping foot on a car lot, you need to know how much you can spend. You’ll need to know what you can get approved for and what kind of monthly payment you can manage. If you love a car, then find out you can’t afford it, you’ll be disappointed and you’ll have to start over in your search. Knowing how much you can spend will help you narrow your options right away, saving time and heartache.
2. Know the Dealer Price
Just like anywhere, car dealers jack up the cost of their cars so they can make money. Before you buy, find out what the dealer price for the car is. That way you can start negotiations at a fair price and you won’t find out later that you handed over way more cash than you should have. Often, a car salesman will tell you, but you have to ask. Otherwise, you can look it up online.
3. Determine Your Current Car’s Trade-in Value
If you have a car you plan to trade in, make sure you know exactly what it’s worth. That way you can get a fair price on it when you trade it. You may not get what you would if you went to the trouble of selling it on your own, but the hassle you save may be worth it. Check the Kelley Blue Book for a pretty good idea of how much you can get for your current ride.
4. Do Your Car Lot Research
Experts strongly encourage you to check out the car dealerships in your area by finding out about their inventory and by reading reviews from other customers. The lot nearest you may not even carry the model you want. If you find out that other people were unhappy with the service or selection, you’ll know to skip that lot altogether and look for another one, even if you have to go a bit further.
5. Don’t Jump into Anything
Trust me, you are going to be sorely tempted to sign the papers and drive that shiny new car off the lot as soon as you test drive it. I’ve been there. However, you should take at least a day to weigh your options and take a few other models out for a test drive. The salesman will pressure you, but stay strong and sleep on it. Once you give it some thought, you may decide that you don’t want a red car, or you want something a little bit bigger.
6. Go out for More than One Test Drive
Now that you’ve narrowed down which cars make your list, take them each out for one more test drive. Take notes if you want to so that you can compare the models you’re considering, which will help you make the right choice for you.
7. Call Your Insurance Agent before Signing on the Dotted Line
One last thing to do before buying is to call your insurance company. Find out what the rates will be on the vehicles you’re considering so that you can choose one that fits your budget. If you’re going from an old used car to a brand new one, expect a big jump in insurance costs.
Are you looking for a new car? Which one tops your list?