Know What to Ask About Vehicles on the Lot
If you’ve found that your current ride is at the mechanic’s shop more often than it’s in your driveway, then it’s time for you to pick out a new vehicle. If you’re looking to go the traditional car-buying route, visiting car dealerships will guide you down the path to purchasing your new vehicle.
Before you test drive any new or used vehicle, be prepared to ask the salesperson you’re working with lots of detailed questions about the car you’re interested in, about their financing policies, and about the process overall so that you can feel sure that you’re getting a good deal on a vehicle that you love. Follow these tips to have a great car buying experience.
Make an Appointment
Don’t go into the local car dealership without an appointment. To get dedicated attention, you’ll want to schedule your visit in advance with a sales representative, rather than hoping someone will be available when you walk in. An appointment will save you time and frustration.
When you have a dedicated appointment you can let the salesperson know in advance the kind of vehicle you’re looking for, information about your budget, and what your timeline is for getting into a new car. The salesperson can also give their financing expert a heads-up that you’ll be arriving, which can help get your loan application processed more quickly if you don’t already have a loan approval from your bank or credit union.
Research Cars in Advance
Don’t head to your appointment knowing little to nothing about the vehicles you’re interested in. Making a decision to purchase a new or used car is not something you should take lightly and you don’t want to end up with something that you hate. Instead, spend a significant portion of time researching vehicles that you think you’d like to drive. For starters, look into their fuel efficiency, safety test ratings, reliability, and annual cost of ownership.
Then consider their price. Will it be more cost effective for you to buy a used car? Then heading to a used car dealership may be a better use of your time than visiting one that really pushes sales of new cars — and you should let the sales representative you have an appointment with know that you’ll be focusing on the used section of their car lot.
Read reviews of car owners for the makes and models you’re considering. What do they say about their vehicles? Do they still like the one they purchased? Would they buy it again? If you know someone who drives one of the models you like, you can even ask them questions about their experience in person. Sometimes advice from friends and family can help us make the right decision.
Finally, research the fair market value of the vehicles you’re interested in, especially if they’re used. You can check Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of how much you could expect to pay for a vehicle and you can look at comparable vehicles on sites that list cars for sale. With this knowledge you’ll be able to tell if you’re getting a good deal.
Review Your Monthly Budget Before Agreeing on a Car Loan
As with any big purchase, it’s important to know that you can afford it. Luckily, most people buy cars by making affordable payments each month rather than having to come up with the full purchase price in cash (although if you can do that, it can also be a wise way to save money in loan interest), so there are plenty of financing options available.
Before your appointment to test drive any vehicles, add up the dollar amount of bills you must pay each month, including your rent or mortgage, utilities, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, insurance, groceries, and anything else you’re required to pay. Be sure to include how much you’d put into your savings account each month, if you have one. Then subtract the total dollar amount of your combined bills and savings from your monthly income. This is how much you’d have left over for a car payment. Leave room for unexpected expenses, like medical bills, or an increase in utilities.
When you go to the dealership and apply for financing there, you can use this information to help the finance expert find a car loan that will fit your monthly budget. Many people today choose car loans that they repay over the course of five years, or 60 months. Generally, the longer the loan term, the smaller your monthly payment will be. You’ll also want to consider whether a longer-term loan will raise your interest rate.
Expect the Process to Take Time
Don’t go into your appointment thinking you’ll be driving off in your new car in a matter of minutes, or even a single hour. It takes time to test drive multiple vehicles, sort out the purchasing paperwork, and secure financing. If you’re looking for a swifter turnaround, look for dealerships with a track record of high-quality customer service. They give their customers their full attention, which can hasten the car buying process. For example, if you live in Kansas City, Missouri, and you’re looking to purchase a new Ford truck, you should read the reviews of each Ford dealer in Kansas City to find the one with the best track record of pleasing their customers.
Now that you’ve reviewed our list of important tips, you’re ready to begin the car buying process. We know that if you follow this advice, you’ll soon be in the car of your dreams. Good luck!