Tired of the bus? Is your high school junker finally on the way out? Well, regardless of your transportation situation, buying a car is a major financial decision.
How to Buy a Car: Research Your Options
Know what you’re looking for in a new vehicle. Take the time to research different makes, models, features and feedback on cars. You can do this by visiting various dealerships or searching options online, including manufacturer websites, local dealership websites, or other sites such as Craigslist and eBay Motors.
Also, especially if you don’t plan on driving much, compare pricing on new and used vehicles — sometimes, you can get a lot more in a used car for less money. When you take the time to research, you will make a knowledgeable purchase decision instead of an impulse decision.
How to Buy a Car: The Test Drive
Regardless of where you buy a car, always make sure to test drive it. Just because a car has the specs you’re looking for doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right fit for you. If you’re like the average American, you spend roughly 15 hours a week in your car — so it has to be something you’re comfortable with, from the seat the sight lines to the buttons.
If you are buying from a dealership, verify any warranties and any current or potential issues with the car. If you are buying used or online, make sure a mechanic looks over the car to make sure there aren’t any issues. As always make sure you like the car and are comfortable driving it!
How to Buy a Car: Negotiating
When you find a car you want, you can start the negotiating process with the seller, which could be the salesperson at the dealership or the private seller. Negotiations can include the purchase price as well as loan terms and monthly payment (if financing is through the dealership). If negotiations lead to a final contract, ask questions about any unfamiliar line items and any unexpected additional listed costs. If the terms and price aren’t what you want, or can afford, simply walk away from the potential purchase.
How to Buy a Car: Financing Your Purchase
First, make sure you know what you can afford. For one, this includes the monthly cost of the car, as well as what kind of down payment you can plunk down. You also will want to look into what the cost of insurance will be for your car purchase. This can be done by simply calling your insurance agent and asking for the cost for the car you are considering. Lastly, don’t forget the true cost of a car – things like fuel costs and repairs. Sites like Edmunds.com help estimate these additional costs.
Most buyers automatically assume the car dealership is the best place to find auto financing. However, banks and credit unions often have lower rates and terms on car loans — especially if you already have an established relationship. If you get your financing from a bank or credit union, have any quotes in writing for when you walk into the dealership.