Even the most experienced car buyer can get caught up in the process and miss a step. So for anyone who’s considering a new car—whether they’re familiar with the process or not—we’ve put together a list of steps!
Consider two things, 1) what kind of car is best suited to your lifestyle – taking into account commute, parking, gas prices, and who and what you’ll transport; and 2) take stock of your ability to make a down payment, and how much you can afford each month for the car, insurance, gas, and maintenance.
Even if you’re replacing an existing car, it’s worth considering the fact that a newer car may mean a higher insurance rate and monthly payment when you’re setting a budget.
Once you’ve got a general budget and type of car in mind, it’s time to start doing some online research. Let’s say you want a small SUV. Take a look at what types of SUVs are available in your price range. If getting a brand-new car means you’ll have to settle for a budget brand or lower trim, consider buying a pre-owned vehicle so that you can enjoy a few upgrades (and less depreciation).
Test Drive Time
Now’s the time to go drive! Reading reviews online is great, but it’s no match for actually sitting in the driver’s seat. Plus, this is a great opportunity to start feeling out dealerships and find one where you’ll feel comfortable.
Financing your new ride is an important step. Many dealerships offer financing options, or work with local lenders. With that said, it can be a point in your favor to get pre-approved elsewhere so that you’re not haggling with the dealer about your interest rate on top of everything else.
Once you’ve squared away your financing and insurance, you’re ready to buy!
Let’s Go Buy a Car
When the time comes to buy your car, go in with a clear sense of what you want, what you’re willing to pay, and when you’re willing to walk away.
Remember – you can always go to another dealership, and the dealers are there to provide you with a service. If you’ve done your research and you know the price they’re offering doesn’t match up with what you know the car is worth, you can always head to the dealer down the street!
And finally…remember to have fun with the process! You’re buying a car that you’ll likely have for the next several years, so you should enjoy it.