The Essential Car Buying Checklist
Although the idea of purchasing a new car for yourself is exciting, the process can be somewhat stressful. From determining what you can afford to finding a trustworthy car dealership, there is a lot of thinking and careful planning that should go into such a major purchase. In order to simplify the process, here are a few tips and tricks for buying a car.
1. Research first – When buying a car, knowledge is power! Before you ever arrive at the dealership, you should take the time to educate yourself on the cars that you are most interested in. Find a car dealership that has listings on their website of the cars that they currently have for sale. After picking a few that are within your price range and will meet your needs, look them up on Internet sites like Auto Trader, Consumer Reports, or Kelley Blue Book. If looking to purchase a brand-new car, be sure to look at the “invoice” price of the car (what the dealer paid the manufacturer for the vehicle) vs. the MSRP. If a previously-owned car is more up your alley, be certain to look up the recent resale prices for that specific model. Overall, this type of knowledge will buy you more bargaining power with a car dealer than an individual owner, as auto salesmen are better equipped to negotiate and give you a fair price.
2. Buy based on actual price – not on the monthly terms!
Although many dealers will offer very attractive, extremely low monthly payment plans to potential buyers – do not let this sway your decision! Often, these “amazing” plans are attached to 72-month long loans, which are less-than ideal. You should always know the “full” purchase price of the car (including taxes, car preparation, delivery fees, etc.) and use this price to make negotiations rather than the monthly payment.
3. Consider insurance costs – When thinking about what you can afford in terms of a monthly car payment, don’t forget about insurance premiums! Certain makes and models, as well as newer cars, will have to require higher insurance payments than others. Check with your insurance carrier or look online for information on what your insurance premium is likely to cost.
4. Consult a mechanic – If you plan to buy a used vehicle, it’s a wise idea to have the car completely checked over by a mechanic before finalizing your purchase. Any types of wear & tear, mechanical problems, or maintenance issues that the mechanic finds will not only help you decide whether or not to purchase the vehicle, but the mechanic’s report could also give you some major bargaining power for negotiating a lower price.
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