Date: 9/1/2011 8:26 PM PDT
Buying a new car can be an expensive purchase, so it’s essential that you get the right car for yourself. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many factors to consider when buying a car, such as type and size of vehicle, where to buy from, fuel efficiency, safety, and of course, cost. Here are some tips to help you in your car buying decision:
Before looking at different car models, you should first look at your wallet. What can you afford? Do you have enough money saved to purchase a used vehicle? Are you planning on putting money down and financing a vehicle?
Other cost factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle, include: fuel costs, insurance costs, registration fees and general maintenance costs. After considering all the costs involved, determine what you can afford both upfront and as a monthly payment.
TIP: Often times, dealerships will offer new car financing interest rates of 0% or 1.9%. At 0% financing, it’s not costing you any interest to take on that loan. You may find that to be a favorable option in your purchasing decision.
TIP: If you are financing a used car, make sure to recognize that the cost of the car with interest may put you upside-down on your loan, should you get in an accident. Make sure that you are conscious of this, and possibly consider gap insurance, if it’s available.
After determining what you can afford, next you should research vehicles in your price range. There are many factors that can affect your car buying decision. The internet is a great place to find information on makes/models, pricing, options, safety and reviews. Finding consumer reviews on the vehicles you are interested in will help you determine how previous or current owners feel about the vehicle, and if there are any major issues with that type of vehicle that you should be aware of.
In researching the vehicle, make sure to check how much the car is worth through car valuation tools. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice by going to see or purchase a vehicle without first understanding its value.
After selecting the vehicle you are interested in buying, whether at a dealership or private sale, next will be the test drive. When testing a vehicle, there are several things you will want to look for.
Begin by looking at the exterior of the car. Look for blemishes, scratches, rust, or any other visible problems. These imperfections most certainly can be corrected but are a great bargaining tool for negotiating the price of the car down. Next, open the doors and make sure it’s easy to get in and out of. Check all doors, especially if you plan on using the back seat. Is it easy to help someone in and out of? Is there any room for car seats (if you have children)?
How do the seats feel? Are they comfortable? Can you adjust them to a comfortable positioning? If you took a long car ride, would it be comfortable and enjoyable? Do you feel like you are too short or too tall for the vehicle?
Are the controls in sensible places? Can you see and reach them?
How is your visibility in the car? Can you see out the mirrors well? Are there a lot of blind spots? Will you have trouble backing up?
Get the “feel” for the vehicle. When taking it on a road test, pay attention to any noise you may hear, steering when you make turns, brakes, acceleration and feel of the vehicle. Test out accessories, such as the sunroof, windows, radio, air conditioner, and heater. Ideally, everything should be comfortable to reach, easy to use, and not distracting to you while driving.
Typically the asking price for the vehicle is a starting point for your negotiations. In most cases, a reasonable offer will be accepted. Offer what you feel is a fair price based on your research, car value and imperfections with the vehicle.
We’re always interested in hearing your car-buying stories. Please post comments and let us know how your car buying experience goes.