Shopping for a new car can be both exciting and overwhelming, but there are several steps you can take to save time at the dealership and make your shopping experience as stress-free as possible. A new car is a big investment, so you'll want to make sure you choose the perfect vehicle since you'll be driving it a lot! We're here to help you make the right choice, so check out our list below to help you prepare:
1. Do Know Your Needs
You may be overwhelmed with all of the available body styles, features and amenities to choose from, but by narrowing down your preferences — cargo space, seating, towing capacity, etc. — you'll save a lot of time at the dealership. This will also help you get a better idea of what kind of vehicle you're looking for.
2. Do Research
Once you've narrowed down the type of vehicle you want, we recommend that you list out what your deal-breakers are in a new vehicle. Refine your search by researching various makes and models that have all the amenities and features you want.
3. Do Know How Much You Can Afford
It can be hard to create a budget, but it's crucial for the shopping process. You may have found a vehicle that is the perfect fit for your lifestyle, but is out of your price range. It's recommended to put down about 20 percent, limit the term to no more than 60 months and keep your monthly payment below 10 percent of your income. Don't forget to factor in the cost of regular and unexpected maintenance, since some cars are more expensive to maintain than others.
4. Don't Trade In A Car That's Worth Less Than You Owe On It
You'll want to avoid negative equity if at all possible. You could consolidate your old loan into the new car's loan amount, but then you would be paying the debt of two cars in a single, large loan. You can get ahead by researching what your trade may be worth. Plus, try out our helpful trade-in tool!
5. Don't Rush Your Test-Drive
Take your time when test driving a prospective vehicle to make sure you enjoy how it rides and can get a good feel for how it handles. Ask plenty of questions, try out the various features and closely inspect the inside and outside. Don't forget to make sure the vehicle has enough cargo space.