A car is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make, and many people buy a new car every few years.
While buying a car can be an exciting time because you get to check out the newest models, it can also be stressful.
Buying a car is usually more straightforward for those who have money to spend, but it becomes more difficult for those who must stick to a budget and find a reliable car complete with heat and air conditioning that can help them make it to work on time.
Additionally, you must also consider the types of features you need in a car. For example, depending on where you live, air conditioning might be a big deal to you.
Unfortunately, there are so many different types of cars you can choose from, including the option to purchase new or used, which can make the process even more confusing.
Buying a new car might take some time so you can figure out what types of features are most important to you and how much you’re able to spend.
Here are the steps to follow if you want a stress-free experience purchasing your next car.
1. Assess Your Current Vehicle
You’re buying a new car for a reason. Maybe your current car is getting old, and it’ll cost more to repair than it would cost to replace.
Perhaps you’ve been in an accident, and your car was totaled, or maybe you’re just the type of person who enjoys purchasing a new car every few years to get the best features.
Whatever your reasons for buying a new car, you should start the process by figuring out what you like and dislike about your current vehicle.
For example, you might find that you’d like to save a few bucks on gas by getting a more fuel-efficient car, or you might decide to skip the gas altogether and get an electric vehicle.
If you have pets, you might not want leather seats, and if your family is growing, you might need a larger backseat. These are all important factors to consider when choosing a new car.
2. Consider Your Vehicle’s Value
Whether your car is only a few years old or has been in your family for years, it has value as long as you own it.
If your car isn’t fully paid off, you can subtract the remaining loan amount from its value to tell you how much money you can make on the sale of your current vehicle.
Knowing the value of your vehicle isn’t a necessity, and depending on the reason why you’re looking for a new car, your vehicle might not be worth very much. However, every dollar counts.
The more your current vehicle is worth, the more you’ll be able to spend on a new car and the less you’ll need to pay on a loan.
3. Consider Your Budget
Not understanding how much you can afford to spend on a car is a money mistake far too many people make. Creating a budget is a great way to understand how much you can spend so you don’t have to take out a loan with a high monthly payment that will cost you thousands of dollars more in the long run.
First, consider how much you can put down on the vehicle by looking at your savings.
Always aim to put down at least 20% of the vehicle’s price. At this point, you may not know how much you want to spend on a vehicle because you haven’t started browsing, so expect to put down at least a few thousand dollars to help lower your monthly loan payments.
If you can’t afford a large down payment, don’t worry. Many banks and auto dealers offer financing options with low down payments.
However, the less you put down on the vehicle, the more you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
Next, you’ll need to decide how much you can afford to pay monthly. If you’re taking out a loan, you’ll need to pay back the loan monthly.
You can look at your current income vs. spending habits to understand how much money you have leftover for a car payment.
Don’t forget that the cost of the vehicle isn’t the only cost associated with purchasing it.
Always factor in the cost of insurance. If you’re buying a new car, your insurance will likely go up. Additionally, consider the types of auto services involved with buying a car.
You might choose to have your car taken to a shop for paint protection, tire rotations, or even just to check the vehicle and ensure it’s safe.
4. Start Browsing
Now that you have an understanding of your budget, you can start browsing for vehicles in your price range. There are many ways to start browsing vehicles, including visiting dealerships in person.
However, many websites allow you to look for a vehicle based on the features you want and your budget, which will make it easier to narrow down the vehicle you want to purchase.
When shopping for a vehicle, you’ll be able to look at new and used vehicles. If you have a smaller budget, shopping for a used vehicle can help you get the vehicle you want without overspending.
However, you may not have a choice in the color of your vehicle since options might be limited.
5. Investigate Financing
Most people can’t afford to buy their new vehicles outright. Instead, they’ll need some sort of financing, such as an auto loan. It’s typically best to have a loan in place from your bank or credit union.
Getting a loan approved ahead of time can also help you negotiate with a dealer because they’ll have proof of how much you can afford and how much you’re willing to pay.
6. Test Drive
Maybe you’ll use your car only to drive to work and see friends and family, or maybe you’ll use it to travel around the country. Whatever you use your vehicle for, you should ensure it’s comfortable and feels safe to you. Consider how much time you’ll be spending in your car.
If the car feels cramped, you might not enjoy long drives across town to work. Test driving ensures you are comfortable in the seat and enjoy the way it handles so you’ll always feel safe in your car.
7. Sign the Paperwork
After test driving and finding a car you love, it’s time to finalize the deal. Always read the paperwork so you understand the terms of your purchase and the loan and aren’t hit with any surprises.
Once you sign the paperwork and pay the down payment, the vehicle is officially yours.
Buying a Car
Buying a new car typically takes time, and there’s no reason to rush the process if you don’t have to. Before you decide to buy any car, do your due diligence by learning as much as you can about the vehicle and test driving it.