Buying a Car

Tips on Buying a Vehicle

 

With so many options now available, the challenge of finding the right vehicle at the right price can seem overwhelming. Here’s the good news: Whether looking for a new-model sports car or a used minivan, consumers have more tools than ever to help make the vehicle choice that best fits their budget, lifestyle, geography, and aesthetic preferences.

When embarking on a vehicle purchase, it also helps to keep in mind some common-sense advice to steer you along the away. Here are a few tips:

Determine what you can pay

Before you begin your vehicle search, establish what you can afford. If the vehicle you will be replacing has been paid off, your new purchase will mean an added burden on your budget. Examine your budget closely and determine what would be a comfortable monthly payment. Be realistic about your finances. Setting budget parameters will help guide your vehicle search.  Also assess how much of a down payment you will be able to make. The more money you can put down, the quicker you can pay off your vehicle loan and save on interest.

Do your homework

When it comes to buying a vehicle, research is critical. Take the time to find out what makes, models, and years of vehicles are available in your price range; the average price of your target vehicles; what experts are saying about these vehicles; reviews from vehicle owners; the added cost of vehicle options; the dealer’s cost of the vehicle; current factory or dealer incentives; leasing options; and where you can find these vehicles. You should also find out the wholesale price of your old vehicle. This is what you should expect to get back on trade, less deductions for condition and mileage.

Vehicle-related websites and consumer magazines can yield a wealth of information. Most dealerships can provide a quote online, so you can get an idea of your costs before setting foot on a lot. Finally, take the time to visit dealerships in person to check inventory and compare prices.

Document your research and bring it along

Have your facts and figures ready when entering a dealership. Write down the invoice price of your targeted vehicle, along with a list of options and their costs. Print out current vehicle incentives, as well as the wholesale price of your trade-in.  If you are in need of financing, bring along annual percentage rates (APR) currently offered by various banks/credit unions. And be prepared with a copy of your credit report.

Buying a used vehicle

Today, vehicle shoppers have many options for finding a used vehicle: a used vehicle dealership or superstore, a new car dealership that sells used vehicles, used car websites, and online and print classifieds. It’s wise to explore all options to find the best deal.

If you decide that a used vehicle is your best choice, make sure you know everything possible about the vehicle before signing on the dotted line. A vehicle history report can provide you with invaluable insights: number of previous owners; maintenance record; if the vehicle ever failed an inspection; if it was ever stolen, salvaged or recalled; and if the vehicle’s odometer has ever been compromised.

Have your mechanic give the vehicle a thorough inspection, checking for signs of accidents and repairs that are not readily apparent. Consult a used-car guide for what your targeted vehicle should be priced in good condition and with reasonable mileage. Also, make sure your contract allows you to return the vehicle within at least 30 days in case you are not satisfied with its condition.

The test drive

You’ve read all the positive reviews, but the only way to know for sure if a vehicle is right for you is to take a test drive.  Before you get in, remind yourself that this is an important purchase. If the vehicle doesn’t feel right or doesn’t handle to your satisfaction while on your test drive, you’re likely to have the same issues five years down the road. Take your time, ask questions, and make your purchase without regrets.

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