A Short Guide to Buying a New Car


People can always find information about buying used cars, either at a dealership or by private seller, but there’s not as much information about buying a new car. Most people think that, since it is new, you don’t need to do much but find a color you like with all the options you desire. However, there is more to it than that, and you’re going to be driving this vehicle for the next five to 10 years.

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Know What You Like

The first step is to research features and vehicles. Does your friend have a vehicle with push-button start/stop? Is that a fun feature that you’d like to have for convenience (and the ‘wow’ factor)?

It makes sense to know what new features are available on vehicles now, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve purchased one. Have a short list of the things you want (and the things you’re willing to pay extra for), so you can find what you want quickly when you go to the dealer.

Loan Preapproval

A pre-approved auto loan can get you started right. You know how much you’ll be able to afford and know what interest rate you’re going to get. Then, you can compare it to the dealership financing option. Many times, dealers can get you a lower interest rate than the pre-approved deal.

You should research lenders in your area. While traditional lenders are excellent, also consider credit unions.

Make sure the loan term isn’t more than 60 months. If you can afford it, consider a down payment of 20 percent. If you can’t, you might try combining a 10-percent down payment with new-car replacement insurance coverage. Therefore, you can keep more of your hard-earned money without fear of not being able to pay the car loan.

Trade It In

If you don’t have a vehicle already, you don’t have to worry about this step. However, if you do have a current vehicle, it’s likely best to trade it in. Make sure you check the Kelly Blue Book price listing for your current vehicle to know what it is worth. That way, you have a reference point when you receive an offer.

If the dealer offers you a similar price to what the KBB price is, you might consider accepting. If it’s lower, ask the dealer why and see if you can haggle a bit.

Find/Test Drive

You’ve probably already got a few vehicles in mind, so now is the time to go to the dealership and see them. If you haven’t already decided, most dealership websites have the inventory listed online. You can sort by make/model, color, and features to find what you desire.

If you do search online, you may want to call ahead when you’re ready to test drive to make sure it is still available. If so, make an appointment to stop in for a test drive. Making an appointment is ideal because the salesperson can have it ready and waiting for you when you arrive, which saves time.

When you go for the test drive, make sure that you bring your family to ensure that everyone fits. You should also request permission from the salesperson to drive on the highway if at all possible. If not, choose a road that allows you to go at least 55mph to get an idea of how the vehicle handles at higher speeds.

When you’re finished with the test drive, take a moment to play with the controls. Are they easy to reach and use? Do they meet your needs and serve their purpose? If yes, you may want to talk about financing or may want to test drive a few other makes and models first.

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A Short Guide to Buying a New Car

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