If you haven’t bought a new car in a while, or you’re a first-time buyer, it might be difficult for you to know where to even start. Cars are expensive so you undoubtedly want to get the perfect vehicle for your money for you – a vehicle that will meet your needs exactly for many years to come. This may seem like a difficult task with so many cars and car dealers to choose from and it is, but if you do your research and you plan ahead, it won’t be nearly as difficult for you to get it right. Follow these steps and you should be just fine…
Assess Your Personal Needs
Your dad might have told you that you can’t beat a Chey and your friend might be insisting that leasing a vehicle is the way to go, and that might be true for them, but is it true for you? We are all different and we all have different vehicular needs, so work out exactly what you plan to use your car for, how much you can afford to pay, how many passengers you’ll have, how many miles you’ll rack up each week, etc., and then you’ll be able to make a decision that really does suit your needs, not someone else’s.
Set a Budget
The next thing you’re going to want to do is set a budget and work out what form your purchase will take. Do you plan to lease so that you have fewer worries? Would finding a used car that you can pay cash for work best for you or would you prefer a car loan? Remeber that your car payments should total no more than roughly 15 percent of your monthly income if you want to be able to keep up the repayments with ease. If you can’t make it work on that budget, then you may need to choose a different way of purchasing your vehicle. Oh, and while you’re setting your budget, remember to take into account fuel, insurance and other associated costs too.
Look at Other Cars in the Class
If you have your mind set on a specific car that seems to meet all of your criteria with ease, don’t be too hasty to buy it. It’s always worth checking out other cars that are in the same class. So, if you’re interested in a Ford Focus, take a look at the Citroen C4 and Vauxhall Astra too, for example. Why? Because other cars in the same class will be very similar by most measures but some may be slightly more affordable or offer slightly better gas mileage and performance. It makes sense to check them out to ensure you haven’t overlooked anything and to give you the option of making an even better choice before you put down your money and it’s too late to change your mind.
Weigh Ownership Costs
Although you might have decided that you’re going, to buy or lease, when you’ve actually found a car that you’re really interested in, it is totally worth weighing up the costs of outright ownership with all of the maintenance it entails the cost of leasing a vehicle. Why? Because although it might work out cheaper to actually buy a car than lease it, when you take into account all of the work you might have to do on it, the scales can often tip the other way and if you haven’t taken this into consideration you could be seriously out of pocket in the end.
Tools like True Cost to Own® are a fantastic resource for doing these kinds of calculations. So, you should certainly endeavour to do so.
Find Vehicles for Sale
Naturally, your next step is going to be actually looking for vehicles to buy. In the past, you would have been restricted to visiting local car dealerships or checking the listings for private owner sales, but now you have the whole of the internet at your disposal which means that you can look further afield and search or very specific models and features by using filtering tools. This also makes it easier to find the best possible price.
Of course, there are a lot of liars and scammers on the internet, so it’s important that you always check out the reputation of any dealers/sellers before you waste your time, or even worse, your money on them.
Take her for a Test Drive
Once you’ve found the car that you think might be just perfect for you, it’s very important that you get in touch with the dealer/owner and arrange a viewing that includes a test drive. No matter how good a vehicle looks and how much the salespeople try to big it up, the proof is in how she handles on the road.
When you’re test-driving the car, you should be on the alert for any unusual sounds, smells of sights, such as black smoke coming out of the exhaust, the engine rumbling in an unusual way or odors that could indicate a leak somewhere under the hood. Ideally, you should try to drive in as many conditions as you can, and you should try out a few different vehicles before you make your decision.
If you know a mechanic or you’re willing to pay one to come along with you, that can be a very good way of ensuring that you do not get taken for a ride and end up buying a car that needs to have a lot of work done, or which falls apart after a few months on the road. You’d be surprised how often cars seem to rapidly deteriorate once they’ve been driven off the forecourt and you need to protect yourself against that!
Collect Your Vehicle
Once you’ve test-driven a few vehicles, it should be clear to you which car you want to purchase, after some thought at least. If it isn’t then you need to remind yourself that there are very few perfect cars and as long as you’ve done your due diligence (the things in this post) and you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of every car you’ve tested, your likely to be making the best possible decision you can. Call the dealer and arrange the purchase.
Read the Paperwork and Purchase
When you go to buy the car you’ve decided on, assuming you’re buying from a dealer instead of a private seller, you will likely have a contract to sign. It might be a bit arduous, but you should actually take the time to read this to ensure there are no nasty stings in the tail. You should also check that all of the vehicle’s paperwork is correct and present and ensure that everything seems to be legit. If everything appears to be in order, go ahead and sign. Take your car home and take very good care of it.
This might seem like a lot of effort to purchase just one car, but since that car is likely to be causing your thousands of dollars and since it’s so easy to make the wrong choice and get suckered by a rogue salesman or end up stuck with a vehicle that really doesn’t meet your needs, it would be smart to follow these steps and do your best to get it right first time. After all, it is only you who will suffer if you get it completely wrong.
Good luck I hope you find the best possible car for you.