Ten Tips for Buying a New Car
Be prepared for the car-buying experience to help save time and money.
While most people love the thrill of having a new car, many of us aren't nearly as excited about the process of acquiring it. Car shopping can be tedious even in ideal scenarios, so showing up as prepared as possible is highly recommended. Following are some tips to help you do just that.
1. Know what you want to spend
Set up a car-buying budget before you set out to purchase a vehicle. That doesn't mean you can't leave some wiggle room if your budget allows, but it may save you some time checking out cars you can’t afford. Even if you find a car in the right price range, additional costs and fees may be added (sales tax, dealer fees, registration costs, etc.) so keep that in mind before you start your shopping.
2. Research cars at home
To save some time, energy, and possibly some money, do as much research on cars as you can to help you narrow down your options. Look at standard features and costs as well as what optional features may be available. Look up ratings for any car you have in mind. How reliable has that model proven to be? How likely is it to need expensive repairs? Edmunds.com1 is a good resource for reviews and ratings, and it’s free. Consumer Reports2 rates vehicles on a variety of categories, including repair rates and safety, though it does require a subscription.
3. Have an idea of ownership costs
As you're doing your online research, you should also seek to find out as much as you can about what it's like to actually own the vehicle of interest. That includes not only what owners think about that particular model, but also the ownership costs associated with it. This would include taxes, insurance, average gas mileage, etc.
4. Make sure your credit is in order
Before you apply for a car loan, and certainly before you set out to do some serious car shopping, make sure your credit is in order, or you may run into some critical obstacles. If you have any issues in your credit report, get them rectified ahead of car shopping. Pay off your debts as soon as possible, and give the reporting agencies time to catch up so that your most recent positive activity is reflected.
5. Research loans at home
You may be able to save yourself money on financing by researching loans as well. Instead of automatically accepting the financing plan offered by the dealership, come in with a good idea of what other finance options are available. Getting pre-approved for an auto loan before you even set foot on the dealer's lot can help things move a little more quickly when you're ready to buy.
6. Know the value of your trade-in
If you have a vehicle that you plan to trade in as you buy your new car, make sure you look up the value, of course taking into account any wear and tear. The dealership may not wish to offer you full value for it, but having a handle on this number at least gives you a starting point for negotiation and an idea of how much money you can put down on the new vehicle.
7. Seek out discounts
Look for discounts before you go shopping. Dealerships are always having sales, so pay attention to the ones that are happening in your area. Even simply searching online for deals may turn up some tempting offers. You can also ask sales staff when you get to the dealership. They usually want to sell you a vehicle before they leave, so many salespeople will make you a special offer.
8. Make an appointment
While you can always just show up at a dealership unannounced, it helps to make an appointment in advance. This will guarantee that you won't have to wait too long to be helped or to take a test drive with the vehicle you're interested. In fact, many dealerships prefer it this way.
9. Get a babysitter
If you have young children, get them a babysitter so you don't have to worry about keeping them entertained or have them distracting you while at the dealership. Buying a car can be a very long process, and kids can get antsy. You certainly don't want to deal with that while you're trying to discuss business.
10. Don't rush through the test drive
When you're test driving potential vehicles, don't be in a hurry to get through it. Take your time and get a good feel for the car you're driving, particularly if it's one you are seriously considering buying. The last thing you want to do is buy it in a rush and then realize later that it is missing features you wanted or that it doesn't drive quite the way you thought.
Buying the right car is important to your whole family, and there are a lot of considerations when making that choice. With the tips above, you can help make the process go as painlessly as possible and get yourself in the driver's seat of your ideal vehicle.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.