Investing in a car is a big responsibility. Whether you are a first-time buyer, a veteran at the dealership, or even a 16 year-old, buying a safe, reliable car that is also the right choice for your lifestyle is no easy feat. There is so much to consider these days (size, gas mileage, color, level of coolness), that often easy but important tasks are forgotten.
Here is some food-for-thought on buying a dependable new or used car:
Know your credit score before searching for car or for an auto-loan. You are less likely to be scammed by a new or used car salesman, or finance manager, if you know for which loans you do and do not qualify.
Do your homework. Know before you start shopping how much you can afford to put down and how much your monthly payments will be. Even though you may be able to find a car loan that only requires a 5% down payment, make sure you remember that the lower your down payment, the higher your monthly and overall payment on the vehicle.
Know the total amount you want to spend on your car. When it comes to buying a car, people often shop according to the monthly payments they can afford. If you do this, the sales person has more opportunity to convince you to buy a more expensive car (more than you want or can afford), but with less monthly interest or a longer loan amount. Best to go in knowing the TOTAL you want to spend on the car and let the dealership figure out how to take that total amount and make it work to also fit your monthly budget.
Read dealership reviews. Your BBB monitors both used and new car dealerships. Before you lay all of your trust in a dealer, check the BBB Business Reviews to see if they are Accredited, or if they have a good rating. Beginning with a reputable dealership should be a high priority.
Read the model reviews. Once you narrow down what type of car you would like to drive and how much you can pay, read reliability reports and personal experiences about the model of which you are interested. Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book both are excellent references.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is a tip only for used car buyers. If there is something wrong with the car you want, say worn tires or a burnt out headlight, you don’t have to walk away. Negotiate the price or ask the seller to fix the problem. If they simply refuse to compromise with you, then it might be time continue your search, but keep in mind that used cars are rarely in perfect condition.