Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases that a person will make in their life aside from buying a house. Since many rely on their car to commute to and from work, take their children to school, and go to enjoy different activities, it is important that you are sure you are getting a reliable car. But the process of buying a car and negotiating with a dealer or private owner can be extremely overwhelming. Below are a few guidelines to help you get started.
- Set a budget. Before you even begin shopping for a car, it is important that you know how much you can spend. Do you have enough money in savings to purchase the car or will you need financing? How much can you afford to pay each month? When calculating how much you can pay for a car payment be sure to include all the expenses that come with a car such as gas, insurance, registration, maintenance, and parking. Once you have calculated how much you can afford, stick to that amount. Don’t be swayed by a convincing salesman that you can possibly afford more.
- Research what type of car you need. Do you need a small car or a larger SUV? Are you wanting to buy a domestic or foreign make? Websites like Kelly Blue Book, Car Fax, Consumer Reports can help you determine how much a car will cost and provide information on a car’s safety, reliability, gas mileage, etc.
- Shop online. Most dealerships list their cars online and you may be able to find a better deal from a private owner.
- Test drive. Be sure to drive on different roads at different speeds, test out the lights, blinkers, windows, sit in the front seat and the back seat, open all the doors including the trunk and hood, etc. Have a trustworthy mechanic inspect the car and run a history of the car using its VIN number to see how many accidents it has been in.
- Sleep on it. Buying a car is very exciting and it can be incredibly easy to get pressured into buying one on impulse but resist the urge. Salesman are very good at their jobs and can be very convincing that you may miss out on the car or offer a discount if you buy the car that day. But it is always better to take a couple of days to think about the purchase and any additional questions you may have. After a couple of days, go back and test drive it again before buying the car.