Life is full of big questions: What is our purpose on earth? Where did we come from? And, should I buy a new or used car?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on what you want and need from a vehicle, including:
How often and in what conditions you’ll be driving
The number of seats and amount of cargo space you need
Your preference for safety features
The fuel economy
The appearance and style you like best
Take a moment to think about each of these items and rank them in order of importance. This will help you narrow down the options that will work for you.
Resources for Car Shopping
Before you head to a car lot and get overwhelmed by the brand-new models, do a little research. This will help you get a baseline for different cars’ features and approximate values.
You’ll be relieved to hear that the internet is your best friend here. First, take a look at the old car value guide standby, the Kelley Blue Book®. You can compare values for new and used cars, get overviews of their features and see if any are for sale near you.
To compare safety features and see if a car has ever been recalled, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. Cars are rated from one to five stars, with five being the highest, on a variety of features and performance in crash situations.
If you need help choosing the type of car you need - like an SUV vs. a sedan, or understanding the difference among brands - you can browse sites like Car and Driver Magazine’s buyer’s guide.
Finally, have a solid understanding of your budget and where your financing will come from before you hit the lots. Getting pre-approved for an amount through your financial organization will tell you exactly what you can spend, keep you from being swayed by costs at the lot and avoid the sometimes high interest offered through dealerships. Don’t forget to think about the cost of car insurance, too.
New Car Buying Tips
If you’ve decided that a new car is right for you, head to the dealer with confidence when you remember these strategies.
Choose at least two cars to look at when you arrive. This will make sure you’re exploring enough options, and you’ll have a backup if you end up not liking one.
Go for a test drive. Don’t skip this important step! You can’t get a feel for the car’s handling, visibility and features without taking it for a ride.
Ask questions and understand the terms fully. U.S. News & World Report suggests bringing a calculator along - it shows you’re paying attention to the costs. If you don’t understand why you’re paying a certain charge, ask about it.
Used Car Buying Tips
Unsavory words like “lemon” often float around when you talk about buying a used car. But if you’re smart about the buying process, you can snag a great deal on a reliable, sometimes almost-new, car.
You may choose a used car from a private individual or a dealership. There are also certified pre-owned vehicles, which offer extra benefits but may not be as much of a deal. This doesn’t mean that regular used cars are unsafe or a bad buy, just that you need to do your due diligence.
When you’re buying a used car, you’ll want to use the NHTSA’s recall look-up tool. Ask the seller about any recall-related work that should have been done.
Take a hard look at the vehicle. Are there rust spots? Do all the features work as they should? Does the engine make a strange noise? You should discuss anything you notice with the seller.
Finally, as with buying a new car, make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting for the price. Will the title transfer be included? Work out all the details before you buy.
Shopping for Car Insurance
Lastly, before you purchase a car, talk to your insurance agent. They can help you understand how much you’ll pay for insurance for a new car of your choice - and you can avoid costly surprises down the road.
Request an auto insurance quote today and get started on your first step toward a new car. It’s free - and it only takes a few minutes!