A vehicle is a major investment. Even used cars have an average price of $20,000 and if you finance, your monthly payments could be $400 or more. So, before you begin shopping for a new car, consider these 10-best car-buying tips.

 

  1. Know your budget. You don’t want to drive a Cadillac off the lot when you have a Ford budget. Take an honest look at your household income and expenses. Set a price and stick to it.
     
  2. Time your search so you can get the best deal. Dealerships are always trying to move inventory off their lots at the end of the year. You will likely find a better deal then. Consider the end of the month when many salespeople are trying to meet quotas.
     
  3. Do your research. Check out several different types of vehicles online and see which one meets your needs. Do you need enough room for a growing family? Are you looking for something economical? Do you want a new or used car? A hybrid or electric vehicle? Knowing what you want before you go to the dealership will put you in a better negotiating position.
     
  4. Read the reviews. Edmunds and Consumer Reports are two of the top publications for automobile reviews. You can also check out the Kelley Blue Book for reviews if you are buying a used car. The publication will let you know the value of the car and also includes information about recalls. Do an online search for the type of car you are considering and you will find online forums where customers are discussing their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction!) with the vehicle.
     
  5. Find the right dealer is as important as finding the right bank. Ask a friend or family member for recommendations. Did they have a great experience with a dealership? Are they driving a car they hate and feel they were rushed into a bum deal? Get advice on vehicles as well as car dealers. Take someone along when you go to purchase the car to get another read on the situation.
     
  6. Once you have decided on the car, research the pricing information. Does the car you want come with any rebates or other discounts? How much will the tax, title and other fees cost? Will you pay extra for added features such as satellite radio or heated seats? Is the same car less expensive at one dealership and more expensive at another? Investigate any possible discounts or added fees before you go shopping.
     
  7. Check with your automobile insurance company. If you are replacing an older car with a newer one, your rates will increase. Insurance companies not only look at your driving history but also at the type of vehicle you drove as well. That four-wheel-drive truck may be in your price range, but will it drive up your insurance costs significantly? You need to know that you can afford the car and the insurance payments before buying.
     
  8. Test drive the car. You really won’t know how well the car handles until you take it for a test drive. Some dealerships will allow you to keep a car overnight or rent it until you can decide if you are happy with the car. Do not purchase a vehicle that performed poorly on the test drive just because it is a good deal. You may save money when purchasing the car, but you could end up spending those savings on repairs.
     
  9. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Buying a car is not like walking into a department store where the price on the shelf is the price you pay. If you have done your homework, you know the value of the car and about any publicized incentives. Salesmen have access to other incentives and discounts.
     
  10. Be patient. Take the time to make the deal that is best for you and avoid becoming emotionally attached to any one car. There are lots of dealers and, based on your research, there’s a good chance that the vehicle that you selected is available elsewhere.
     

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