Buying a new car can definitely be exciting, but there are so many options to choose from at the local car dealer that the experience can quickly take a stressful turn — but that’s only if you don’t go in prepared. When you know what you want, it’s easier to narrow your choices so you don’t wind up wasting your time. By figuring out three key facts before you hit the dealership, you can wind up with the perfect vehicle in record time.
Know Your Budget
The most stressful part of buying a car is probably dealing with the price tag. It’s certainly a costly investment, and if you go to the car dealer without knowing exactly how much you’re willing to spend, you may wind up paying more than you can afford. So before you start shopping, sit down and figure how much you can allot each month for a loan or lease payment. Typically, it should be about 10 to 15 percent of your monthly income. If you’ve saved money for the purchase and plan to pay cash, know the exact amount that’s available.
And don’t forget insurance, gas, and other maintenance costs when you’re calculating your budget either.
Know What You Need
There may be certain features that you’d prefer in a new vehicle, but it’s important to know what things you really can’t live without. Start with the size that you need by determining how many passengers you’ll carry regularly. You should also think about what type of cargo room you require. Next, focus on the types of driving you expect to do, such as on surface streets, highways, or off-roads. Consider your climate too — if you live in a cold area that gets heavy snow, you’ll need a model that does well on ice. Other factors to consider include safety features, fuel economy, and the amount of parking space at your home.
Know What To Look For in a Test Drive
A test drive can help you make a decision about which sedan, SUV, or truck is best for you, but it’s easy to get distracted by the excitement of trying out a new vehicle. So before you get behind the wheel at the dealership, you should know exactly what to pay attention to. Don’t overlook the basics, such as the amount of leg and head room, how comfortable the seats are, the readability of the dashboard, and the level of visibility.
Once you’re out on the road, drive as you would in your daily life. Consider how responsive the vehicle is as you steer and how smoothly it brakes. When you’re traveling over rough road, make sure the suspension keeps the ride soft. If you commute, take it on the highway as well as surface streets so you can see how it accelerates. If you drive through hills and mountains routinely, find a hilly area and evaluate the car’s climbing power.
Back at the car dealer, think about how easy it is to get in and out of the seat. Check out the trunk and cargo area to see how much space is available and how easy it is to load. If you have children, insert your safety seats to see how well they fit too, so you have confidence that the vehicle meets all of your needs.