Shopping For A New Car

Thinking about buying a new car? Here are some things to consider before making your selection and signing the paperwork.

Most people buy a new car at some point in their lives. Depending on the make and model, your new car payments may rival a monthly mortgage payment.

Rather than buying a vehicle on impulse, plan ahead by taking several things into consideration first. Then make a careful selection and get your best deal. Here are some tips:

1. Figure your budget. Decide how much money you can afford for a down payment. Then calculate the size of your monthly payment, and the number of years. Keep in mind that making a down payment takes money away from savings or another purchase, so determine if a new vehicle is your greatest need at present. Similarly, compare a monthly car payment with the value of saving that money or applying it to another purchasing choice. If you feel that a new car is needed and affordable, you're ready to move ahead.

2. Study the market. Decide which features are most important to you. Some buyers favor a popular make and model, while others look for a sale price. Family customers may prefer special safety features. Know what you must have as well as additional features you would like, such as a sun roof, remote entry, or a quality stereo system.

3. Shop around. Browse several models online and by visiting car dealerships, test driving the few that make it to your short list of favorites. Discuss cost, sales fees, maintenance agreements, and warranties in addition to the car's features. You should ask about fuel costs, typical repair fees, and resale or trade-in value for an idea of ongoing expenses and equity.

4. Check ads and sale schedules. Larger dealerships run frequent new car sales, sometimes offering a sales package to attract visitors to the dealership. You may be able to get a "loaded" model, especially one that is smaller or less popular, during one of these events. Be sure it has the features you want and not extras that you cannot use.

5. Ensure that the vehicle you want is the one you get. A few unscrupulous dealerships will remove new tires and replace with older tires. Or the sales person may neglect to mention preparation, tax, or title fees. The promised low interest rate may be exchanged for a higher interest loan if you don't "qualify" as originally promised. Confirm the terms of your purchasing agreement before you sign paperwork, and inspect your car when you take possession.

6. Get your best deal. Clip coupons, such as "$1,000 off." If using your present car for trade-in, clean it for optimal attractiveness and trade-in assessment. Visit the dealership at the end of the day, the end of a month, or the current model year (typically late summer or fall) to get a top of the line deal. Sales personnel are eager to meet quotas by selling "one more car" by the end of that day, month, or year. Remind them of that potential when you shop.

Buying a car is fun, but take steps to get what you want at a price you can afford. Take good care of the new vehicle to enjoy years of safe driving and eventual trade-in value.

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