Be Smart at the Dealership: Researching Your Car Before You Buy

Nowadays, many young adults are putting off the traditional rites of passage, such as getting married, having children and buying a home. Purchasing a car is often the first major financial decision young people have to make. Though the prospect of haggling over sticker price or applying for an auto loan may make you break into a sweat, you can make the process much less stressful by following a few easy tips.

1. Decide What Matters to You

Cars come in a variety of colors, sizes, gas mileage and price. Perhaps you’ve always longed for a red convertible—but you are a college student with a part time job at the library. In this case, you either have to downgrade your dream or buy used. Likewise, if you’re concerned about your finances, buying a gas-guzzling SUV is probably not your best bet, though it may be your ideal vehicle if you have a family or do a lot of driving in adventurous locales. Figuring out what you need in a car will help you narrow down the options before you even start looking.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Obviously one of the biggest limiting factors in obtaining your dream car is money. However, you can maximize your bang for a buck by taking a step back and evaluating your financial health. Do you know your credit score? What’s your debt-to-income ratio? How much monthly payment can you afford? These are all important questions, but fortunately, there are a lot of handy online calculators to help you arrive at the answers. Further, you should check your savings. Do you have enough for at least a 10 percent down payment? If not, you may be better off waiting in order to lower your monthly payments.

3. Do Your Research – Before You Set Foot in a Dealership

Before making a big purchase, research is essential. Buying a car is no exception. Fortunately, in the Internet age, you have a wealth of resources at your fingertips without leaving home. You can research interest rates and even calculate your expected auto loan in seconds. You can find out the average value for used cars or the going rate for a new car in markets across the country. Try getting preapproved for a loan to get the best rate and save time at the dealership. Before making your final purchase, you should also research auto insurance. Different cars will result in differing insurance costs so consult the website of a Greensboro insurance agency to estimate your expected costs.

4. Bring a Friend for Support

The prospect of haggling can be scary. Doing your research can go a long way towards easing your anxiety but there is also safety in numbers. Bring a trusted friend or family member, preferably someone who knows a lot about cars, in order to strengthen your bargaining position.

The Best Tip of All: Walk Away

To get the best deal, you should come with a list of requirements—and don’t sign on the dotted line until you get what you are looking for. If you have a maximum price, don’t budge, no matter how persistent the salesman. Above all, don’t be afraid to walk away if the terms aren’t to your liking. A car is an expensive purchase—make sure you that you drive away in one that is right for you.