Start by creating a budget. Before beginning your search for a new car, create an appropriate budget for yourself. Remember to factor in the total cost of the car, the future down payments, and any fees, loans, or taxes. By doing this you will have a rough estimate of your maximum spending limit when later negotiating with a dealer. Consider if buying or leasing is the best financial decision for you right now. A lease offers benefits such as lower monthly payments and little money upfront, but a leased car has restricted mileage and must be returned at the end of the lease. Buying a car requires more money up front and monthly payments, but once you have paid off the loan the car is yours.
Have a Car Model in Mind Before You Shop. Ask yourself what you need and want in a new car. Do you need room for many passengers, is four-wheel drive needed, what safety features do you prefer, and will you often be taking long road trips in the car? Keeping these questions in mind will help you narrow down options, and help you find a car best suited for your specific needs.
Compare Prices. Use resources like Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book to compare the different prices of cars online. Looking at different models side by side, you can compare what each car has to offer for what price. Keep in mind the difference between the invoice price (the price paid by the dealer for the car) and the sticker price of the car (the price the dealer is asking for the car).
Select a Dealership. Ask around to find dealerships people trust and maintained a satisfying experience. You can check a dealership’s accreditation standing, complaints, reviews, and ratings at bbb.org. The dealer should be informative of all of your available options and make you feel comfortable, not pushy and overbearing.
Try It Out. Once you find a car you may be interested in, take it for a test drive. Be sure to test drive the car in similar conditions the car will be driven in once purchased. If able to, try out as many conditions as possible, including driving through traffic, on the highway and backroads. Carefully evaluate the cars features, and turn off the radio when you drive so you can hear all of the car’s sounds.
Negotiate. Do not accept the immediate invoice price, bargain with the dealer. By bargaining you will get the lowest possible price the dealer can sell it for, while still making their necessary profit. If you look elsewhere that offers a lower price, ask the original dealer if they can make a better offer. If the first and second offers are not ideal, be patient, you must be prepared to walk away.
Trade in. Wait to discuss trading in your old car until you are comfortable with the price negotiated for the new. Research the value of the old car on Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds before you trade. Be careful the dealer is not offering you a lower price on the new care because they are not giving a respectable amount for the trade-in.
Sign the Contract. Be sure you understand all components of the contract before you sign. Know what the warranty offered will cover. The dealer or salesperson will most likely offer extra items, it is best to turn these down or negotiate the price. Review and be sure all costs and prices are correct and ask the dealer or salesperson to breakdown all of the items listed before signing the contract.
At last, you are now the owner of a new car.
Contributed by Maddie Mitchell, Communications Strategist
Maddie Mitchell is a junior studying public relations and international studies at the University of Oklahoma. She is a resident of Norman, Oklahoma, and a graduate of Yukon High School. She enjoys writing about tips and tricks for all occasions, and the books she can frequently be found reading.