Your first car purchase can be both exhilarating and frightening. Amidst intimidating car dealers and technical jargon, it can be challenging to make smart decisions.Here’s how you can get the vehicle you want at the best possible price.
1. Set a realistic budget
The last thing you want is to get buried in debt. Know what you can afford and stick with it. Ideally, you want to pay in cash, but in cases where you’re considering a new car, it’s better to apply for a personal loan or a car loan before visiting a dealer.
Applying for a loan in advance helps you establish a budget. It requires you to review your credit and expenses, which ultimately dictates the monthly payment you can afford. Banks and lenders offer different car loan lengths and down payments. Take the time do research until you find one that best fits your terms. Doing this in a relaxed setting instead of being put on the spot by a car dealer can help you make smarter financial choices.
Part of a car dealer’s job is to assess their buyers and their level of knowledge. They can take advantage of first-time buyers who are unfamiliar with the process. Lining up your financing first puts you in control of negotiations and helps you land the deal you’re eyeing.
2. Do your research
As with any kind of purchase, extensive research is essential to car shopping. There are plenty of websites that offer detailed reviews and ratings about almost any kind of car. Kelly Blue Book, for example, offers expert advice and price listings for both new and used models.
If you want to compare the prices of used cars, Craigslist offers tons of user reviews and deals from private sellers. Forums are also great sources of must-know information on car shopping. Being equipped with essential facts can strengthen your position as a buyer and help you score the right deal.
3. Schedule your purchase wisely
Most dealers operate month to month. This means they are more likely to accept lower offers at the end of the month just to reach their quotas. Avoid shopping during peak weekend hours when there is more competition and higher rates.
4. Skip the add-ons
Don’t say yes to all the extras the dealer offers unless you really need them. These can include window tinting, clear coating, rust-proofing, clear-coating, and VIN etching and often come at high rates. You have the right to ask your dealer to deduct them from the total cost. If they refuse, ask what they will offer as a concession, or better yet, find another dealership.
5. Test drive
The best way to really assess a car and its features is to see it in action. Some features may sound fantastic in theory, but if they appear to be unnecessary in reality, then you’re just wasting your money.
A test drive is the best time to experience details the car salesmen don’t normally discuss like wheel adjustment, seat height, control layout, steering feel, among others. It also lets you see the interior space up close.
Going for a test drive allows you to assess the safety, reliability, and comfort of the car. At the end of the day, nothing is more important than how you feel behind the wheel.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a new car or a used one. Car shopping requires tremendous planning, research, and focus. Staying true to your needs makes the process easier and ensures that you end up with a car that matches your goals and budget.