Buying a New Car
Buying a new car can be exhausting–whether you’re a novice or an expert, this process is a lot of work! We’ve outlined some steps, tips and tricks to help you navigate bringing home your new ride.
Determine Your Budget
The first thing you want to do is determine your budget. It sounds simple, but this process requires more than just picking the highest amount you want to pay. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Will you get a loan, pay cash, or sign a lease?
- How much will you have to pay up-front?
- How much will monthly insurance cost?
- How much ongoing maintenance will be needed? How much will it cost?
- What is the trade in value for your current vehicle?
Do Your Research
Once you’ve determined your budget, you need figure out what that budget will get you. First, decide what’s most important to you—Safety? Size? Comfort? Gas mileage? Then determine which brands and models offer what you’re looking for. Most cars have a plethora of add on features, such as a sunroof or heated seats, but these often cost more so you’ll want to prioritize your wants and needs.
After you’ve narrowed down your list, find out if it makes more sense for you to buy new or used. New cars are more expensive and depreciate in value quickly, whereas used cars may have more miles and require more monthly maintenance. Keep in mind, there are plenty of resources available to help you make the best decision for your buck.
Visit the Dealership or Shop Online
There are more options for car shopping now than ever before. While you may be more comfortable going to a dealership, there are convenient online options as well. Whichever way you go, be sure to schedule a test drive. Some cars on your list may look great on paper, but you don’t want to make any final decisions until you’re able to get behind the wheel and test them out. Remember, patience is key when buying a new car and if you aren’t in love with any of the cars you test drive, it’s okay to walk away and do some more research.
Make a Deal
If you’ve found a car that fits your budget and fulfills your needs–great! You can work with the dealership to finalize the purchase. To avoid the dreaded car salesman negotiation, we recommend reaching out ahead of time to get price quotes on the cars you’re looking at. You’ll want to compare the asking price to the average market price to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. This is also a good time to discuss extended warranties or free yearly maintenance. Take your time reviewing any paperwork you’re asked to sign and don’t be afraid to ask questions if something doesn’t seem right.
Tips + Considerations
- If you plan on taking out a car loan, you can save money by getting pre-approved. This can also give you the upper hand when negotiating the price of your new vehicle.
- When considering your budget, don’t forget about the extra fees that you’ll need to pay, including taxes, registration, dealership fees, etc. Ask your dealership for a fee breakdown before agreeing to anything.
- Keep in mind that monthly insurance costs can differ depending on the type of car you buy–talk to your insurance ahead of time to get an estimate.
- If you’re buying new, consider adding gap insurance. You can always cancel it later when you owe $1,000 to $2,000 less than the value of your car.
- The price for recurring costs and maintenance can increase drastically depending on the make, model, and year of your new vehicle.
- Kelly Blue Book is a great resource for figuring out how much your current car is worth.
- Be flexible and patient–this process can be long and frustrating, but if you’re willing to walk away and take more time to think about what you want, you won’t get stuck with the wrong car.