Whether it’s your first time buying a car or your third, purchasing a vehicle can be a stressful process. There’s a lot of pressure to pick the right make and model for your needs—after all, many people spend nearly as much time in their car as their home or workplace. Here are some suggestions to make your car purchase experience go smoothly.
1. Don’t Fall in Love Too Quickly
It’s easy to get attached to a car. People associate vehicles with freedom, excitement, and desirability—and that’s fine! But if you see a car and decide that you absolutely must have it, regardless of the cost, you might make a financial decision that will lead to you resenting (or even getting rid of) the very vehicle that was the object of your affection. Keep an open mind.
2. Set a Budget (And Stick to It)
How much can you afford to spend on a car? Before you commit to a payment plan, consider how stable your employment is. It’s a shame to lose your job and be saddled with a car note that you can’t afford. If you can pay cash for your car, great! But don’t spend all your liquid assets on a vehicle. Set a range of prices you’re willing to pay, and don’t let the person selling you the car bamboozle you into financing a car for more than you planned on.
3. Consider All Costs
The amount you pay for a car isn’t entirely accounted for by the down payment and/or the monthly bill. You’ve also got to figure in other ownership costs, including fuel, maintenance, and particularly insurance. Get a quote on insurance for each car you’re considering in the area that you’re planning to register and the drive the car in. For newer vehicles, the insurance can often be quite high, particularly if you live in an urban center.
4. Find Out How Much the Car You Want Costs Before You Barter
If you’re buying a new car, you should research the invoice price. That’s the price the dealer paid for the car, and believe it or not, it’s possible to argue them down to near that number. But the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is usually steeply inflated. Make an offer close to the invoice price.
5. Research Rebates and Discounts
There are a ton of discounts and rebates you can get when you buy a new or even a pre-owned vehicle. Search extensively online—don’t count on the dealer to tell you about every break you’re entitled to.
6. Get It Inspected
Have a mechanic inspect any used car you’re considering buying. There are some mechanical issues that even an extensive test drive won’t reveal, and few sellers will be willing to give you your money back, even if the wheels fall off as you drive off the lot.
Buying a car doesn’t have to be stressful, but you should look at it as an investment. That means putting careful consideration into every aspect of your purchase. The suggestions above will help you make a decision you won’t regret.