Regardless of whether you buy new or used, buying a car is expensive. In fact, for most Americans, a car is the second biggest purchase a buyer will make in his or her lifetime (behind their house). It’s a daunting process, especially your first time – but even with multiple purchases, it’s not that much easier.
Now that so much information is easily available on the Internet, it’s much easier to prepare for your car buying experience. We’ve compiled this list of 6 tips to help you in your pre-purchase research. No matter what you’re buying, you should make sure to cover these 6 tips before you set foot on a dealer’s lot.
1. Determine your budget
If it’s one of the biggest purchases of your life, do you really want to make an impulse buy? If you rush into buying without knowing what you can actually afford, you’ll end up with expensive payments and a constant budget struggle to keep afloat. Look at your household budget – you should aim to spend no more than 20% of your monthly income on your car, including your monthly payment, insurance, maintenance, and gas.
2. Research your choices
Now that you know what you can spend, you have to choose what you want to spend it on. You might have your eye on a few options already, but make sure you thoroughly research available choices. You’re going to be driving the car for several years, so if you’re planning on having any children during that time, make sure the vehicle has plenty of room. Read reviews and research current prices to find your best option. You shouldn’t visit a dealership for a test drive until you’ve narrowed your choices down to just a couple of options.
3. Know the value
Prices can vary quite a bit, so do some research online to know what the car is really worth. If you’ve narrowed your choices down and you rush out to the nearest dealer who’s got that car, you might not be getting the best deal available. You’ve got to know what your car is worth so you can buy from the right dealership.
4. Look at the total cost
Many buyers make the mistake of only considering the monthly financing payment when they’re deciding what to buy. Remember – you’ve got to factor in insurance, maintenance, and gas costs as well. Make sure you research the gas mileage for the cars you’re considering – with fuel prices rising steadily, a few miles less in MPG can equal a lot more money spent on gas every month. Read online reviews and look for vehicles that require more monthly maintenance too – you don’t want to be surprised after you buy.
5. Determine insurance costs
There are a lot of factors that determine your personal insurance costs, but one of the most important factors is the car that you’re driving. The more the car is worth, the more expensive your insurance will be. Call your provider and get quotes on all of the cars that you’re considering so that you can factor the numbers into your budget.
6. Research financing
Besides researching vehicle prices, you need to research available financing deals. Look at the amount that you’ll be financing and the available interest rates – look at how much you’ll be spending over the live of the loan. A longer term might reduce your monthly payments, but you’ll end up paying more overall. Know what you can afford and what’s available so you can make the best choice for your personal situation.
If you follow these 6 tips for buying a car and thoroughly research your options, you’ll make your car buying experience much easier. If you “know before you go,” you’ll be able to make informed, intelligent decisions and you’ll end up with a car that you’re happy with for years to come. If you’re in the market for a quality used car in the Memphis area, check out our inventory online. We offer flexible financing plans and we guarantee approval for every customer, even those with bad credit. Our high-volume, low overhead way of running the dealership lets us offer the lowest prices in Memphis – even the entire tri-state area. Check out our site, then come see us – you’ll be glad you did!