Let’s be honest — buying a car can be a tedious process. It requires prior research and an understanding of your financial situation and current market trends, and that’s only scraping the surface. If only it were as easy as entering a dealership, picking a car, and driving away.
Depending on how old your car is and how many miles you’ve driven, it can be challenging to know when it’s the right time to purchase a new vehicle.
It’s normal to ask questions such as:
- Is my current car running properly?
- Can I afford a new car?
- Should I buy or lease a car?
- What kind of car works for my family?
- Do I buy a new or used one?
- How much will I be driving?
To make your car buying experience go as smoothly as possible, there are some considerations you need to make before heading to a dealership.
Continue reading to learn more about the process of car buying and how you can best prepare yourself when the time comes.
1. Find the Right Car for You and Your Family
The first step in your process should be narrowing down what car style will fit your family’s needs.
For large families, minivans with extra space are a suitable option. Does anyone in your family require accessibility accommodations? There are options for nearly any size car. Make sure each member of your family would be comfortable in a new vehicle. For individuals or couples, a small sedan or two-seater is a good choice.
It’s easy to get caught up in the specifications of a car, such as color, interior features, device compatibility, or style. It’s more important to think about why you’re using the car in the first place and which car matches your lifestyle needs. Maybe you plan on taking multiple road trips and need space for luggage. Taking this into account is vital when choosing a car.
Even if you’re on the fence about making this kind of purchase, it’s essential to consider what type of car you’ll need in the future. Once you’re interested in buying, you’ll be one step ahead once you decide to go through with this big purchase.
2. Set Your Budget
Your financial situation is at the center of your decision to buy a car. You must look at your finances and see if you’re capable of swinging a significant expense. Thankfully, many dealerships offer multiple financing options for you and your family.
Financing, leasing, or taking out an auto loan to help pay for a new car are popular options for many buyers. Setting a budget before going to shop is critical. Choose the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a vehicle, and it’ll make your shopping experience easier.
You’ll be able to eliminate some options that go above that amount and provide you with a shorter list of cars to choose from. You can even use online resources like a car budget calculator to assist you with setting your budget.
Discuss with your family your thoughts about buying a new car. Make sure everyone is on the same page about making this purchase before heading to a dealership.
3. Do In-depth Research
In addition to a financial review, researching information about the car you’re interested in buying is a major step in the process. Setting aside time to explore your options will benefit you in the long run.
While researching, there are some critical elements of a car that you should note. For example, understanding how many miles per gallon (MPG) a car offers will help you determine how fuel-efficient a vehicle is. You’ll know how much you can expect to pay for gas as well as how often you’ll need to fill up. If your car is electric, planning around charging your vehicle is another consideration you’ll have to research beforehand.
Consider gaining a basic understanding of how a car operates and the different terminology you’ll come across while at a dealership. Knowing the differences between four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, for example, will make your buying process more straightforward. It’s less likely that you’ll be taken advantage of if you know your stuff!
4. Know How to Negotiate
Car dealers operate on commission and will try their best to strike a good deal for themselves. It’s important you take the time to learn how to properly position yourself when buying a car.
Negotiating at a dealership can seem intimidating at first. It’s much simpler to say “yes” to everything, but it’s not the most cost-effective way to approach this type of purchase.
Dealers may want you to pay for additional features you may not need, and it’s crucial that you know how to put your foot down if you’re not interested. At the end of the day, purchasing a car is a business transaction. If you find it challenging to get a good deal at one dealership, remember that there are multiple choices!
As a customer, you’re not required to shop at only one dealership. Visiting a handful of dealerships will give you a good idea of what options are available to you and help you set clear expectations.
Create a Car-Buying Plan
It’s no secret that purchasing a car, whether it’s your first time or not, is a lengthy and involved process. Know that your purchase can go smoothly with the proper preparation.
Be sure to follow these steps the next time you’re interested in buying a new vehicle for yourself and your family!