Sooner or later, many of us who drive older cars will likely succumb to that intoxicating aroma known as “new car smell”. And why shouldn’t we? Buying a new car can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially when you know you got the right car at the right price. To help ensure that your next car buying experience is all it should be, here are 7 tips to help you choose the new car that’s right for you.
Don’t be driven by wants:
When shopping for a new car it’s not always easy to be objective—to put your needs in the driver’s seat and your wants in the rear-view mirror. While looks, style, and performance should play a part in the car selection process, the primary focus should be on practicality. This means being honest with yourself in terms of how you will use your new car. If you have a long commute, you should be looking for a car that gets good gas mileage. If you often find yourself transporting multiple passengers or cargo, you may need to go with an SUV over a sedan. If you drive in harsh weather you may need a car with 4-wheel or all-wheel drive. If you have limited parking or garage space, you’ll need to factor that in as well. The key is to make sure the car you’re considering will meet your driving needs before you give way to your wants.
Resist the urge to splurge:
Before even looking at a car, it’s critical to determine a monthly payment that will not break your budget. Whether you buy or lease your new car, nothing can kill that new car thrill quicker than the realization that you’re driving something that you really can’t afford. Once you figure out what you can honestly afford you can start shopping for cars that fit your budget. Another factor to take into account when spending money for a car is how much time you will actually be spending behind the wheel. Although you might be able to afford a higher monthly payment for a particular car, it might be hard to justify the added monthly expense if the car is not getting much daily use.
Compare leasing vs. buying:
There are two options to consider when acquiring a car—purchasing or leasing. And each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Leasing, as opposed to buying, will get you into a car for less up front money and with lower monthly payments. This means that you’ll be able to drive a more expensive car through leasing than you could afford to buy. Leasing also gives you the option to drive a brand new car every few years without having to trade the older model in. However, unlike buying a car, at the end of the lease you are left without a car to drive or sell. Another advantage of buying your car is that no restrictions or penalties are placed on the number of miles you can drive each year. In today’s current economic climate, with low interest rates, buying is a better financial decision than leasing.
Know the trade-in value of your current car:
Once you realize that you are serious about buying a new car you’ll want to see what your current car’s trade-in value is. The best source for this information is still the Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com). If your car has a higher trade-in value than you thought, it could help you with the down payment of a nicer car than you might have felt was within your budget. A lower trade-in value will also help you determine what you really can afford.
Consider what your new car really costs to own:
Speaking of what you can afford, you need to understand that there are more costs associated with owning a car than just the monthly payment. Depreciation and maintenance must also be factored in. Once you determine your price range, you need to do some comparison shopping to determine which cars hold their value over time—along with which are cheaper to insure, maintain, and will cost you less at the gas pump.
Take a real test-drive:
When the time comes to get behind the wheel, you need to let the sales person know that you intend to take the car for a real test-drive— not just a ride around the block. If you do a lot of freeway driving, then head for the nearest onramp. If you often find yourself in stop and go traffic, shoot for a test-drive during rush hour. Make sure to give the brakes a good workout to see if you like how they respond. And don’t go out of your way to avoid potholes, bumps, or tight turns. At some point during the test drive, give the sales person the wheel while you ride in the backseat to see how your potential passengers might feel. The key is to see how you like the car under the driving conditions you’re used to. If you have any reservations about buying, it’s best to move on to another dealership.
Involve your social network:
Once you get close to making a decision, take some pictures of the car (or cars) that interest you most and post them on Facebook, inviting your friends to leave feedback. If someone you know and trust comments that the car just doesn’t seem like you, maybe you should give it more thought. Another benefit of social media is that others who may own the car you’re considering may share their good or bad experiences with you. Or they may lead you to consider another car altogether. Purchasing a new car is a major decision. By using these suggestions you’ll be on your way to buying a car you’ll enjoy for many miles and many years to come.