Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of tips you should have ready to go when you walk onto the car dealer’s lot. Now that you have everything ready to with your credit score, financing, and budget, you’re ready to buy your car. Follow these easy steps to ensure that your car buying experience goes smoothly.
Create a List
We recommend that you start your car search online. This way you can see and compare models and features in the comfort of your own home without being pressured by a car salesman to pick a car or make up your mind. Look at what comes standard and what will be extra on the cars you like most, and determine whether the prices you see will fit into your budget. Once you’ve done your research, come up with a short list of a few cars that you would seriously consider owning. Have this list ready, along with the research that you’ve complied, with you when you head to the dealership.
New, Used or Leasing
Decide which option—new, lease, certified preowned, or used—works best for you. You’ll find all options in your budget, and you’ll find all quality of cars in each option. Buying used is often the best value, but you’ll pay a high interest rate, have a shorter warranty, and may not know the car’s full history. If you’re looking to lease, you won’t own the car, and there are often certain rules to avoid penalties. Buying new gets you a full warranty and lower interest rates, though there may be fewer features available without spending extra. Certified preowned cars are often a good compromise, as they are less expensive than new cars, but have some warranty and have to meet certain standards and regulations for safety. Pick which option you are most comfortable with and go with it.
Don’t rush your test drive. Once you’ve done your research and picked your car or cars, schedule a test drive with the internet or fleet manager. This will help you build a relationship with someone at the dealership who will be less likely to push you into making a deal. Ask for more time with your test drive. You’ll be driving this car around for a few years at least, so make sure you like how it handles on surface streets and freeways. Take your time with the car in park too—adjust seats and mirrors and play with the different controls. If you often drive with a passenger, bring them along and make sure they’re comfortable too. If you haul things, make sure everything will fit.
When it comes to start signing the paperwork, you’ll already be ahead of the curve by having your credit information and the financing all set up, but there are still other fees and terms you’ll need to negotiate. Have ready any discounts you may have researched. Negotiate the trade-in value of your car separately from the purchase of your new car, and research the value of your current car ahead of time so you know if you’re getting a good price. Look carefully through the list of fees to make sure they are accurate and necessary. And be prepared to say no to the extras you’re offered. You can always get them later, if you end up wanting them, after you’ve done your research.
If you follow these simple and smart steps, you’ll have a great experience buying your next car, and you’ll get an amazing deal on your dream car. Check out these tips and tricks to get the best deal before you head out to the dealership.