The steps you need to take when buying a car

Apr 29, 2019, 14:15 PM by Nuvision Credit Union  

If you’re thinking about buying a car, you shouldn’t just choose the first vehicle you see when you walk onto the lot. Buying a car is a big deal, and there are a few things you need to do before actually making the purchase. By following these steps, you’ll have the necessary knowledge to successfully negotiate a deal and save money in the process.

Step 1: Set your budget

Know what you can afford

Many buyers are easily swayed by the allure of the new car models and luxury accessories, and as a result, end up making purchases that aren’t within their means. Sure, the car seems appealing now, but you may come to regret your decision in the future when you can’t make the monthly payments and are forced to increase the length of the loan.

Even if your bank says you qualify for a $30,000 vehicle, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Think about how long you will be paying towards the loan, and how much money you’ll spend over the course of it. Stretching the loan out as long as possible to create a monthly payment you can afford ensures you’ll pay more in interest, and be obligated to pay towards this car for a longer time. To avoid this fate, objectively analyze your current situation and set a sensible budget that accounts for all the variables in your life.

Get pre-approved for a loan

Unless you plan on purchasing cash, you’ll need to figure out financing at some point. It’s smart to get pre-approved before you walk into the dealership. Preapproval gives you more negotiating power, and can also help determine your monthly payment.

Plan your trade-in

Know the value of your current vehicle before you start negotiating. This will give you more realistic expectations for the cars worth, and protect you against unfair offers from the dealership.

You should also understand how the trade-in value will affect the rest of your new car budget. Will you use the money to get a higher value car, or put it towards a cheaper one and opt for a shorter loan? What you choose will depend on your priorities, just be sure to figure it out ahead of time.

Step 2: Choose your car

Consider your needs

This one seems obvious, but make sure the vehicle you choose suits the needs of you and your family. Look at comfort, style, and performance, and don’t forget to account for your specific circumstances. For example, if you have kids that you’re constantly driving around to friends’ houses and sports practices, you’d probably want sometime a little bigger with more room.

As you do your research, be mindful of your budget and don’t get too distracted by cars outside of your price range.

Look at reviews

Reviews can help you better gauge the reliability of a car. It’s great to know what the manufacturer says, but ultimately the people who use the car every day will have a different take on it. There’s plenty of places to find reviews online, both from customers and experts. If you know somebody who owns the car you're looking at purchasing, it would also be wise to consult them about their experience with the vehicle.

Take it for a spin

The test drive is the make or break test for a car. A vehicle can have good reviews and be perfectly within your budget, but ultimately, you are the one driving it, and you need to be comfortable. Some sellers may try to rush you during a test drive, but if you need more than the 5-10 minutes they usually offer, don’t be afraid to ask. You want to be certain about your purchase and able to go into negotiations without any reservations.

Step 3: Get a good deal

Know what prices are fair

The single best thing you can do to protect yourself against a bad deal is research. Check with other dealerships and get multiple quotes, and look online to see what the car you’re interested in generally sells for.

Be cautious of add-ons

Between physical add-ons and extended warranties, the dealer will try to sell you one a variety of extras after you’ve already agreed on the price. Many of these items aren’t necessary, are considerably overpriced, and can be found for cheaper elsewhere. Not all are bad ideas, but you should at least be aware that this is another sales tactic and you may not need to dole out the extra cash.

Consider the time you buy

Some seasons of year are better for securing a good deal than others. Dealerships often have discounts during the holidays, and the end of the year makes them want to get rid of old inventory. If you can’t wait too long, waiting until the end of the month is a good option. Salespeople are usually required to hit specific monthly quotas, and they may be willing to lose a few bucks giving you a deal if it means they can meet that quota by the deadline.

Ask about manufacture deals and customer rebates

There are so many rebates out there that you might qualify for, but you have to ask. Many manufacturers give rebates for military, students, and seniors, as well as for those who own a competing car or already own the same brand.

Ready to purchase your new car?

Nuvision offers auto loans at the industry’s most competitive rates. With a Nuvision auto loan, you’ll enjoy payment terms that suit your budget, and special offers like a 60-day grace period before your first payment. Get pre-approved today!

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