Ask anyone, and they’ll probably tell you their last experience buying a new car wasn’t a pleasant one. The process can be stressful, time-consuming, and expensive, but it has to be done if you need something to get you from point A to point B.
Despite all the stress and frustration, buying a new car also can be quite exciting, especially the first time you sit behind the wheel and take a test drive. Don’t get caught up in that thrill and use it as fuel for hasty decision-making.
These helpful tips to buy a car can help to ensure you drive away in a car that fits your lifestyle and budget. It’s important that you follow these guidelines to buy a car and make a smart purchase, and first car owners, this article is also for you!
Research Your Car Options
Before you buy a new ride, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, so you can weigh your options and narrow down the type of car you want to shop for.
Do you need a coupe, sedan, SUV, minivan, or truck? How much cargo room will you need? How many seats are required to haul around your crew? Asking yourself these questions is a good starting point for determining the right car for you.
Head online to research your options. Unbiased reviews from consumer magazines or car experts can help you rule out some models or create a short list of the ones you want to test drive.
You can also ask people you know – friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors – whether they like their car and if they’d buy it again if given the chance. Recommendations from people you trust, especially from people with lifestyles similar to yours, can give you plenty of guidance before you buy a car.
Related: 7 Proven Tips to Buy a Car Wisely
Choose Where You’ll Shop
Now that you know what kind of car you’re looking for, you need to find a dealership where you can find one in stock. For example, if you’re looking for a Ford truck, then you’ll need to Google “Ford dealers near me” to find a car lot that sells them.
If you’re on a budget for your first car, then you might want to look at used car dealerships in your area, being very careful to choose one with an excellent reputation for selling quality cars.
Regardless of which type of car lot you plan to visit, you’ll want to look into customer reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, to see what other shoppers are saying. Beware of positive reviews that all sound the same; they were likely bought. On the other hand, lots of bad experiences should be a red flag that you need to shop elsewhere.
You can also buy used cars from third-party sellers. If you go this route, you’ll need to take care to check out the car extensively, as independent people rarely offer any guarantees and leave all the trouble to your car insurance. It’s hard to trust a stranger, and buying a car makes it even harder.
How will you pay for your car? If you don’t have a bank account full of money, then you’ll likely need to finance your purchase.
You can get an auto loan from your local bank or credit union. But if you’re planning to buy from a local car dealership, they may do the legwork for you to find the best possible auto loan, if you qualify for it.
If you plan to get a loan from your bank or credit union, you need to secure pre-approval before you go shopping and have cash in hand if you’re buying from a third-party seller. Contact the financial institution of your choice to learn how to get pre-qualified.
If you’re going to talk to the finance department at your local dealership, then you should bring along your down payment, proof of employment, and photo ID, which are required to apply for a loan. If you get a loan through the dealership, then you must buy your car from them since they offer guarantees plus extended car insurance, most of the time.
Related: How to Choose the Best Car Insurance
Know the Value of the Cars You’re Considering
The best way to get a good deal on your first car is to know how much you should expect to pay before you agree to buy it. There are two easy ways to determine fair market value.
First, you can look up the market value on Kelley Blue Book, a vehicle valuation and auto research company recognized by the automotive industry. You’ll need to know the car’s year, maker, model, features, location, condition, and mileage on the odometer.
Enter this information, and Kelley Blue Book will give you a price range that you can expect to pay for the car. If your dealership’s pricing seems too high, it could be a red flag and you might want to shop elsewhere.
You can also compare prices between car dealers to determine what’s fair to pay. Price tag outliers that are either high or low can tell you whether the dealership is pricing cars fairly.
So, pretending you’re looking to buy a Ford truck, you’ll want to look at the prices of the trucks listed for sale at several Ford dealerships.
Brush Up on Haggling for a Better Price
If you fall in love with a car, but think you could do better on the price, remember that you can always haggle to get a deal. Try these haggling tips.
- Know the best time to get a good deal. At car dealerships, this is often toward the end of the month, as salespeople have limited time left to meet their sales quotas.
- Keep a maximum price in mind, but don’t reveal it! Otherwise, that is the amount you’ll end up paying.
- Don’t appear too excited; play it cool. If the salesperson knows you’re in love with the car, they know they can get more money out of you.
- If you’re buying a used car, look for flaws that could help you reduce the price. Does the used car have a couple of door dings? Are there any stains on the interior? Use these flaws to your advantage, as they do, in fact, lower the car’s market value.
- If the salesperson offers you a price that’s close, but not quite, what you want to pay, tell them you need to make a quick call to check on something. This gives the salesperson time to find ways to drop the price a little more to entice you to buy.
Not all car dealers welcome haggling; some take on a no-haggle policy by pricing cars transparently, at the lowest possible prices to begin with. You can expect the salespeople here to stand firm on the price, in that case. Also, remember that there are other ways to get the best out of what you pay, maybe haggling to get the first year of your car insurance for free, or your first services free of cost.
Related: Expert Tips for Buying a Luxury Car
Once your purchase is complete, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of making smarter car-buying choices. You’ll be proud of your accomplishment of buying a new car, especially if you followed these tips and made the most of them, like researching fair prices, visiting highly-recommended dealerships, and securing the best financing for you. Remember that buying a new car is a serious matter since your ride will be with you for at least a couple of years.