Buying a car is one of the biggest financial milestones a person can achieve, second to buying a home. And, there’s a much to consider in the decision. Does it meet your long-term needs? How desirable is the gas mileage? Is it reliable? Is it well maintained? These are questions you should ponder before hitting the dealerships to start looking for your next car. Meeting all your needs within budget can be discouraging especially when dealers may not have your best interest in mind. Most times, they want to push you into that driver’s seat and out of their lot!
Whether you’re looking for a new or used vehicle, luxury model or just the basics, it’s important to do some preliminary research before setting out to buy. You probably have in mind some options of makes and models. It’s in your best interest to check online inventory in your area so you can see what’s available. Read reviews on the best models from your list to gain a sense for what has the best ratings. With this research, you should get yourself to a place where you’re very focused on what you’re looking for at the dealership. It also helps to check your credit score and get pre-approved for auto financing before looking at vehicles with a dealer.
Here are a few important tips to remember...
Set your budget + stick to your guns. Pick the model and trim based on your budget. Do you need all the bells and whistles? Don’t get swayed by features you don’t really need. Determine the maximum monthly car payment you can handle without dipping into your savings account or emergency funds. Only visit a dealership already armed with this information. It will make it that much easier to fixate on only what you’re after. Figure in other related expenses like auto insurance, gas and ongoing maintenance costs as these add to your monthly payment.
Seek out discounts! Dealerships are always offering various rebates and incentives on car purchases—it’s up to you to find them at the right time. Throughout the year, car dealerships run many different types of sales and promotions to get buyers to their lot. For example, over the holidays and winter months’ dealers are desperate for car buyers and more willing to negotiate a deal. Summertime is a buyer’s market, too, because oftentimes the manufacturers are preparing to roll out new models in the fall and want to move older inventory even if the car only has a few thousand miles.
Don’t rush the test drive. If you’ve already identified vehicles you wish to drive, call the dealership in advance and schedule the test drive with a salesperson, or better yet, the manager. Take the vehicle for a spin (or two) before deciding it’s the one. Don't ever hesitate to request more time behind the wheel—on and off the road. You need to make sure you like the driving experience as well as feel comfortable with the features and controls. Adjust the seats, mirrors, check storage areas and determine if there is enough room for you and your cargo.
Car-buying resources topped with personal, attentive service
RiverTrace can help you get financing on your new car in order before you visit the dealership where you plan to purchase. Our offering of auto and RV loans are uniquely tailored to fit your needs. By allowing us to handle financing, you benefit from competitive, low interest rates, a straightforward, stress-free process with superior member service and all decisions made locally at our branch.