Read our car buying tips!
Buying a car can be a daunting task! Finding a good car with low miles, the perfect color and style, and then worrying about financing. Whew! But, rest assured that buying a new or used car can be fairly simple, if you use the resources available to you!
1. Pre-approve your loan first
Unless you are buying outright, you should think about financing (and interest rates) before you think about what color to get. Many buyers forget that the cost of money is just as important to the bottom line as the purchase price of the car itself. If you end up with a less-than-favorable loan, whatever you saved “up front” on the sticker price can easily be lost over the course of the loan period if you sign up for a loan that’s got a higher rate than you could have/should have paid.
2. Shop when you don’t have to
The best way to get a great deal on a new vehicle is to avoid being in the position of having to replace the one you’ve got because it just broke down and it’s beyond fixing (or you just don’t want to put any more money into it). Be sure to look ahead of time than to be looking when you desperately need a ride to work.
3. Compare incentives
To jump-start sales, many automakers will offer various incentives (cash back, “customer loyalty” discounts, special financing deals, etc.) that can be worth as much as several thousand dollars off the purchase price of a new vehicle. If you’re considering two otherwise similar (but different brand) vehicles, the availability of one or more incentives on one of them could be all the incentive you need to make the choice between them. You can also use incentives on one brand as a negotiating point on the purchase of another.
4. Know what you’re buying
Most models of new cars (and trucks, SUVs and minivans, too) come in several trim levels, with your choice of engines, transmissions, safety equipment and other features. You should always know at least as much about your next car as the salesman does so you can talk about the car knowledgeably and weigh all of the extras before committing to purchase. Information is readily available (see the automakers’ web sites and read as many expert reviews as you can find, etc.).
5. Be sure to take a test drive
You should take a thorough test drive of at least two hours’ duration before buying — to make sure the vehicle is comfortable and there are no design problems (such as excessive blind spots, uncomfortable seats, noisy engine/hard to shift transmission, etc.) that you might hate to have to live with if you actually owned the car.
6. Know how much your old car is worth
A big mistake made by many buyers is to focus on the new car (and its price ) while forgetting to know just exactly what their old one’s worth. It doesn’t do you much good if you save $2,000 on the new one but lose an equivalent amount on your trade-in. You should get a solid “ballpark” idea by checking current trade-in/resale prices for cars like yours in the classified ads section of your local paper and trade guides such as Kelley Blue Book and the National Automobile Dealer Association’s used car price books
7. Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve
Getting emotional about a new car or truck is fine, once you get home. But while you’re shopping, you’ll almost certainly do better if you can remain as aloof and detached as possible. Never portray more than casual interest in a car; sales clerks react to emotional buyers. You should convey a “take it or leave” it impression — and the more convincing your performance, the more likely you’ll drive home a deal instead of paying more than you probably should have.
Bonus Question: Do you really need an extended warranty? Do you know what you are paying for it?
Some F&I managers can make you feel that saying no to the extended warranty is like playing Russian roulette with your car. You never know when that costly repair "bullet" might strike. But new cars are more reliable than ever, and the data seems to indicate that most people might not need an extended warranty.