Last week I decided to buy a new car. The one I picked out gets great gas mileage and has a lot of cool features, but the most important thing is I got an amazing deal on it. For some, buying a new car is a stressful, drawn-out process, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the biggest challenges is simply that people often don’t know where to begin; I know I didn’t. I spent a lot of time and effort asking questions of my co-workers and searching Google. I wanted to make sure I was as prepared as I could be to make the car-buying process as smooth as possible. The amount of time it takes to prepare for buying a car depends on how detailed you want to be but ultimately, the majority of it can be completed in the comfort of your own home. Because I just went through the process I want to pass along what I learned to make your experience easier.
Determine your budget: Before you even start thinking about buying a new car or truck, you should consider your budget. Think about how much you can comfortably afford. I knew what I was paying for my previous car, so I knew I wanted to stay in that payment range. When it comes to choosing the right vehicle, choose one that fits you lifestyle needs. For example I knew that because I have a toddler, a sports car isn’t a good choice right now. If you know you are going to need financing you can check your credit online at Credit Karma and get an idea of where your credit score is and what rate you could receive.
Price shop online: Think about it, you wouldn’t buy the first house you see, right? You’d spend time, do research through realtor websites and narrow down to the ones you want to see in person. Well, the same is true with cars. Based on your lifestyle needs, research different makes and models to find which ones really interest you. Once you have an idea of what you want, do research on the different dealerships and find out who has the best price. Dealers often offer an online price that is significantly lower than the lot price; in my case the difference was $4,000! Make sure to print out the online listing price and bring it with you to the dealership. I would recommend calling the dealership before you go to make sure the specific car you want to test drive is still on the lot.
Research the car: If you found one specific car online you are interested in, find out as much about it as possible. You can check the value of the car at NADA or Kelley Blue Book to make sure you aren’t over paying. True Car can also help by showing you what others in your area have paid for the same car. Another thing to look at is an accident report. There are a few different options out there such as Carfax, National Insurance Crime Bureau and Auto Check but you may have to pay to use these. There is also Vehicle History which is free to use. All you need is the VIN (vehicle identification number). The more information you have about the car, the better! Don’t forget to call your insurance agent to get a quote on the car so you have an idea of how much your coverage will cost.
Get pre-approved: By getting pre-approved for a car loan before you even step foot in a dealership, you know about how much your payments are going to be. The best part is, you don’t have to have a specific car picked out to get pre-approved. You can usually call or apply online at most places and sometimes even get a pre-approval instantaneously. Pre-approvals generally don’t take too long to complete and are typically good for 30 days so you don’t have to worry if your first choice doesn’t work out.
If you have any questions about the car-buying process you can call 937-859-6260 ext. 2300 and speak to any of our lending center ladies. They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful with all aspects of the car-buying process. They made financing my car extremely easy. You can also apply online here.