Last updated on May 16th, 2017 at 02:40 pm
If you’re thinking of buying a car this year, it’s important to do your research before taking that financial plunge. There are many questions to ask yourself – what make or model is most sensible for your lifestyle? Are you a family of five that requires a large SUV? Can you feasibly afford that two-door roadster? Does it make more sense to buy new or used? What about financing?
When researching your new ride, here are a few things to consider:
- Know your budget. Be smart about what you can afford. Financial experts from Consumer Reports offer their suggestions on how to determine what you can feasibly spend on monthly car payments. Remember also to consider other car-related expenses, like insurance and gas. Bankrate also offers an online household budget calculator.
- Narrow and assess. There’s an overwhelming amount of cars to choose from. Narrow your search by perusing the manufacturer’s websites and independent review sites to determine the ones that fit your lifestyle and budget. Sites like Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book might be a good place to start.
- New? Used? Certified preowned? Lease? Is your head spinning yet? With whichever model and make you decide on, there are many ways to approach the purchase – from brand new model to a lease. Each option comes with its own pros and cons. For example, if you opt for a high-end lease, you won’t actually own it and you’ll need to stay within the lease’s terms and conditions in order to avoid incurring additional costs (like staying below the allowed mileage.) If you choose to buy a used car, you won’t necessarily know its full history, but it’ll be less expensive than buying a new model.
- Get interested in interest rates. Before heading to the dealership, consider consulting a bank or a credit union to see what financing they could offer you. Compare that rate to what the dealership is offering and determine which one is the better deal for you. After all, only about 10% of buyers actually qualify for those 0% interest rates offered by some dealers.
- Take note of discounts and incentives. Are you a recent-grad? Perhaps a member of the military? Sometimes dealerships will offer incentives and discounts to particular groups, though these deals might not be widely publicized. Check to see if there are any incentives being offered by dealerships beyond just the “cash back” rewards you’ll often find.
- Patience is a virtue. Armed with your research, get out there and take some cars for a test drive. Don’t feel bad about asking to test it more than once – at the very least this’ll be your car for a few years, so it should be exactly what you want. How comfortable are the seats? Is there enough trunk space? While these factors might not be top of mind during your initial research, they are worth considering based on how much time and money you’ll be spending on this car.
Remember, a smart and educated consumer is a happy consumer. Happy shopping!
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