The automotive industry has a dizzying array of options from brands, cuts, and trims, to dealerships, online purchasing, and car vending machines. All these avenues can feel overwhelming to someone looking to get a good deal on a reliable car. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful tips experts offer to guide first-time buyers into a good decision.
When you're buying a car, you need to research more than makes and models. First, you want to research yourself, or more specifically: your budget. It's hard to know what to look for if you don't know what you want to spend. Determine how much you're willing to put down, how much you're willing to finance, what monthly note you could afford, or if you'd rather buy something outright. Depending on your situation, you'll be able to come up with an amount your comfortable paying at the dealership.
Next, you can find what kind of cars you're interested in. Keep in mind some manufacturers are synonymous with cheap car insurance and others with expensive policies. For example, a BMW typically runs $350 more a month in car insurance than other non-luxury vehicles. If you're trying to keep to the lowest possible rates, look for a standard sedan or small hatchback. As a general rule, the larger the car the more the insurance will cost.
Before you step into a dealership or a negotiation with someone, you also want to study the car-buying process. Nine times out of ten, the sticker price isn't what you'll pay for a car, so you need to be able to defend your asking price to see if you can get the dealer to agree to a deal. Look up what other dealers are selling the same model for or what price similar cars sold for. Knowledge gives you more bargaining power and can help increase the odds you get a great deal.
Just like when you're looking to buy a house, getting pre-approved for a loan to buy a car can help speed up the process. It gives you significant purchasing power when you walk onto the lot ready to put money down the same day. Lots of times, this will make dealers more willing to work with you so they can make an immediate sale and not have to hassle with paperwork. You can find auto loans through most banks, online services, or through licensed dealerships.
Once you have your approval, don't be afraid to shop around. You might have found the car you're looking for on one lot, but could possibly get a better deal from another. The key is to never let a dealer know they're your only option, even if they are. Make it clear you're willing to walk away and find what you need somewhere else, and you'll surely get their undivided attention.
Some people think the only way to buy a car is to buy it brand new and drive it fresh off the lot. The truth is there are tons of used cars in great condition that you can get for a fraction of the price of new cars. Lots of dealerships sell cars that people used as leases or trade-ins, so it's not impossible to find a relatively new model with low mileage if you're keeping an eye out.
This is one of many areas where using the internet to bolster your search is incredibly handy. You can compare hundreds of cars on various formats all within minutes. It makes it much easier to find out the history about a particular car, which model is best for you, what it's mileage is, and the asking price all before setting foot in a dealership. The internet is an excellent way to arm yourself with information before buying a car.
When you're ready to make your final purchase, you'll know you secured a good deal because you did your research, shopped around, and considered all your options.