It’s an exciting time when the opportunity comes for you to shop for your own vehicle. As you celebrate the freedom of mobility a new car brings, you will face a number of choices. Which car, out of the many models available, should you buy?
Should you start your car ownership journey with a new or used car? Where should you get financing?
Your decisions will determine the extent to which you enjoy your new car. As with most situations, it’s better to prepare before you start shopping. There are a few helpful tips to help you make the right decision.
1. Determine Your Needs:
There are many great cars in the market, but no one car does everything perfectly. You may find a nice sports car that drives well but doesn’t have space for your family or grocery bags.
It may be a gas guzzler that you will struggle to fuel. Alternatively, you could be looking to purchase a minivan because of the size of your family. However, this type of vehicle may not be ideal for the weekend off-roading adventures you love.
While you may not be able to get a car that checks all the boxes, there are cars with shortcomings worth compromising for when it entails significant benefits.
If you find a fuel-efficient SUV that provides you and your family with a good level of comfort and safety, you might be willing to live with its less-than-ideal appearance. If you’re a gearhead who wants to relish every part of the driving experience, you might prefer a stick shift to a car with an easy automatic transmission.
Where you live and where you work also determines the kind of car you should buy. If you live in the countryside, one of the compact, fuel-efficient town cars may not serve you as well as a truck with good clearance. It’s important to consider all elements when searching for your next vehicle.
2. Budget and Financing:
The average American doesn’t have an unlimited budget for a vehicle purchase. The kind of car you end up buying will largely be dependent on how much of your income or savings you can divert. If you have good credit and have access to financing, you will have a number of options at your disposal.
You can either get financing from the dealer directly or get a bank loan. You may also be among the lucky ones whose employer offers staff car loans at subsidized rates.
Whichever source of financing you choose to go with, you need to ensure the repayments don’t take up more than a fifth of your disposable income. Some lenders won’t extend credit if you don’t meet this condition.
The cost of owning a car involves more than just the price of the vehicle. If you’re getting financing, add the interest you will be charged along with administrative fees. Be sure you consider all of your other major costs like rent and utilities when budgeting.
Think about future expenses like registering the car, insurance premiums, regular maintenance, and fuel. There are ways to mitigate these costs to some extent. You can bundle your home and auto insurance to make premiums more manageable. There are also driving techniques to minimize fuel consumption.
3. Research and Compare:
The best way to find the right car for you is to roll up your sleeves and do some thorough fact-finding. Start your research on the internet with a simple Google search. Having a clear idea of the features you want and your budget beforehand can save you hours of going down the wrong rabbit holes.
Before you begin shopping, get more information on potential buys from blogs or manufacturer sites. Then, begin comparison shopping on the websites of dealerships near you. From this research, you can come up with a shortlist of dealers worth visiting.
4. Test-Drive At Least Three Cars:
You can admire the features of a few cars at the dealer that meet your needs and price criteria. Go ahead and test drive them. For a comprehensive test drive that will help you make the right choice, have a mental checklist that includes the following:
- Check for any dents or scratches
- Check to the tire tread to see if it is worn
- Turn on the lights and indicators
- Check functionality of the radio, A/C, and other console controls
- Ensure gauges are working
- Examine how smooth the brakes are
- Listen for any untoward noises from the engine as you drive
If you can get a qualified mechanic to accompany you during the test drive, all the better.
5. Be Ready to Negotiate:
It’s always worth asking for a discount; don’t shirk from the opportunity. Ask the dealer if they will bring the price down if you pay cash upfront or make a larger down payment. Also, be willing to opt for a cheaper model if it means compromising on a nonessential feature.
Take Your Time:
Buying a car, especially your first one is a big investment, not just from a financial perspective. Many car owners tend to develop an emotional connection with their first car—even giving it a name. Take your time and thoroughly research what the market has to offer before making your final choice.