Purchasing your first new car is a big step and it can be a scary, nerve-wrecking experience. I know the feeling all to well after buying a new car last year. Although I ultimately walked away satisfied, the whole process was very stressful and I started second-guessing my decision. Looking back, I walked on the car lot too early and was indecisive.
Planning and researching your car purchase ahead of going to the car lot is a smart move. The following 4 tips are a great place to start!
ESTABLISH YOUR BUDGET
Generally, folks base their budget off how much they're willing to spend on the monthly payment. Typically, this isn't the best strategy for getting the best deal. Dealerships often times use this option to finesse term loans. Try putting a 5 year cap on the length of your loan and if feasible, pay 10 to 20 percent down with cash.
Cars.com has a handy car loan calculator which is a great way to calculate auto payments over the life of your loan.
Click HERE to check it out.
RESEARCH ONLINE & ASK ADVICE
It's best to get your ducks in a row before visiting any car lot. One of the most important things to include on your to-do list is test driving the vehicles your interested in. Consider your needs such as drive distance to work, gas mileage, would 2 doors suffice or do you need a 4 door vehicle? Check online reviews about the dealerships in your area, also chat with friends and family. Do you know someone who's driving that shiny new car you've fallen in love with? Talk to them to find out where they purchased it, what type of deal they walked away with, and how they're liking their new ride!
NEVER BUY WITHOUT A TEST DRIVE
Nothing compares to how you feel behind the wheel! I had my heart set on a particular model for over a year. As soon as I slid behind the wheel, I immediately knew it wasn't the car for me. The seat wasn't comfortable, I didn't like the seat height, and the dash controls were oddly placed. I made the decision to keep looking. Many things come into play when choosing that perfect fit - height of steering wheel, seat adjustment, control functions, visibility, layout of dash, etc. Never settle! This is a major decision, and you need to feel satisfied and happy.
NAIL DOWN THE FINAL PRICE
So you've taken it for a test drive, it's within your budget, and you're ready to talk money; it's time to nail down that salesman with the final price. These salesmen work mostly from commission, so the more you pay, the better outcome for them. Don't reveal your monthly payment preference. Doing so allows the dealership to include added costs with a longer loan life. It's better for you to go in with the total cost calculated rather than the monthly payment your comfortable with. For example, you might be talked into those fancy wheels or a stereo upgrade which is just and extra $12 per month. Doesn't sound bad at all, right? Over a 72 month loan with interest, that extra 12 bucks comes to a whopping $936!!
After my experience purchasing a new car from a dealership, these 4 tips cover some of the information I wish I had prior to purchasing my new car. There's several good websites offering great advice for first time buyers. For example, cars.com is a great resource. They offer tips and information on everything from leasing versus buying, price comparisons, safety features, top 10 lists, and much more.
How was your new car purchase? Will you do anything different next time around? I love to hear from readers, so feel free to leave a comment below.