What Should I Do Before I Buy a Car, Truck, or SUV?


Hello,Want tips for buying a new car or new-to-you used car? Either can seem overwhelming. Not only do you have to choose among dozens of vehicle options, but you also have to arrange financing and possibly get rid of your current car. Doing some homework ahead of time can help you buy in confidence.

Make a list of needs and wants

When it comes time to find the one, options are endless. Consider what matters to you and your daily driving needs. For example, stop-and-go traffic routes may equal an emphasis on mpg to save gas. If you constantly haul loads (or extra kids), you may need a roomier fit and a bigger vehicle.

Do you want room for a family or additional cargo space? Do you want rear view cameras or other features that improve car safety ? Are you looking for efficient gas mileage on highways or in town driving? Once you have your list, search on car finder sites to find models that meet your needs. Pick three models to research further. 

Find out how the insurance industry rank your vehicle

A “new-to-you” car may equal a new-to-you insurance rate; the total will depend on the car’s make, model, policy specifics, and other information. See how your desiredcars rank in insurance cost as compared to other cars. Also check with your insurance agent to get an estimate of how much insurance will be on your new vehicle.

Set a budget

Most experts recommend a ceiling of 25 percent of your monthly income for all cars in your household. Use online calculators to understand whether your cars’ monthly payments fit within your budget.

Choose between new or used, buying or leasing

 Owning establishes equity, which means when you sell the vehicle you’ll reap any difference between the loan you have left and the value you own in the car. But owning means you’re responsible for everything, including pricey repairs. Leasing equals no equity but often lower monthly payments and less money down. However, if you’re constantly driving long distances there are lease mileage restrictions. Use an online calculator to help determine if you should lease or buy your next vehicle.

Research prices and reviews

Manufacturers’ websites have a wealth of information about the costs of certain features, colors, and trim levels. Various research companies like Consumer Reports, Carfax, J.D. Power, and Kelly Blue Book collect maintenance reports from a variety of sources on vehicles. Kelley Blue Book also has a Five-Year Cost to Own and Consumer Reports has a Cost of Vehicle Ownership that can show you the true cost of ownership for any vehicle. 

Get pre-approved for a loan

 Whether you choose to buy or lease, your credit history matters. Work with your financial institution ahead of time to secure an auto loan and an interest rate . You can then use that as a bargaining tool when you negotiate with the dealership.

Know your credit score

Check beforehand so you’re confident about what you can afford, and triple-check all numbers in your paperwork.

Utilize on-line tools

Free car appraisal tools on the internet can approximate how much your car may be worth. Check multiple sites and be realistic when evaluating the condition of your vehicle; very few cars actually qualify as “excellent.” And be honest when discussing your trade-in with the dealer: A service evaluation can quickly discover any service needs.

Shop your trade-in around

Just because an appraisal tool indicates your car is worth $5,000 doesn’t mean you’ll get that amount from a dealer. They may have a surplus of that make and model, and may also have promotions or profit goals that affect any trade-in offers. Tip: To get an idea of the range of offers, visit several dealers, including at least one that is different from your car’s brand.

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