Buying your first car is an exciting experience. There’s no better feeling than going out and choosing that perfect vehicle for you and knowing that it will be yours when you drive it off the lot. Before you head out to the dealership, however, you should be prepared to understand the complicated automobile-buying process so there are no surprises.
Determine a Budget
While you may have your heart set on a specific vehicle, you won’t be able to take it home unless you can afford it. You should take a thorough look at your finances so you know what you can afford. When you’re looking at your overall budget, you should include your monthly car payment, fuel and auto insurance costs, and any regular upkeep such as tires and oils changes.
Buy or Lease?
Thanks to many lease returns, there are a wide array of cars that are less than three years old that are in good condition. These types of vehicles, called certified pre-owned automobiles, are often a great choice for someone who’s looking for a car with low mileage and a warranty but may not be able to afford a brand-new vehicle. If you’d rather have the peace of mind knowing you’ll be driving a brand-new vehicle but can’t afford to purchase outright, leasing is also a viable option that often comes with lower monthly payments, a solid warranty, and a shorter commitment than purchasing. Determine which is best for your situation so you have an idea of what your financing will look like.
Narrow Your Choices
Start by researching vehicles that may have caught your eye to see if they fit into your budget. You can compare different vehicles on automaker websites or read consumer reviews which will give you a thorough breakdown of the vehicle-owning experience, including positives and potential negatives to watch for. If you’re a single person with a limited income, a smaller vehicle may make sense or your needs, but if you have a growing family, purchasing a crossover or SUV may make more sense. You should plan to go to the dealership with a couple choices in mind so you aren’t overwhelmed by salesmen showing you different vehicles that may not fit your lifestyle.
Dealers don’t just want to sell you a car, but they often want to coordinate the car loan, too. However, that doesn’t mean you should go through the dealership to finance your vehicle. Often, banks and credit unions will have better rates on vehicles and be more willing to waive fees or down payment minimums that dealerships often require. Having that bargaining power may get you better loan terms from the dealership and save you money on your monthly payment.
Prepare to Negotiate
After you’ve found the perfect vehicle and are ready to make a purchase, be prepared to begin the negotiation process. Make sure you research the values of the vehicle you want to purchase before you make or accept any official offers with the dealership. After you feel comfortable with the deal, it’s time to sign on the dotted line and take your new purchase home.
Purchasing a vehicle can be an arduous process, but you want to be sure you’re getting the best vehicles at the right price. If you do your research and come prepared to stand your ground regarding what you want and price, you’ll be able to walk away with a great new automobile.