Buying a vehicle is an exciting time in anyone’s life. But if it’s your first time working with a dealership it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Most importantly, it can save you time and money if you know what to expect during the process. Don’t get taken advantage of when you purchase a car for the first time. Here are some important tips to keep in mind from start to finish.
1. Do Your Research
When you’re shopping for a new, or even a used vehicle, it makes sense to seek the advice of the experts first. Often, this means going into your local dealership and talking to the sales team about the car you want to buy.
Keep in mind that the goal of a car dealership is to sell you a vehicle. Unfortunately for some dealerships, this means doing whatever it takes to get you into a vehicle that best suits their needs, not yours.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from getting taken advantage of when buying a car is by doing your own research first. Before you even step foot into a dealership, make sure to do some background research on the vehicles you’re looking for. This will let you know how the vehicle operates, what the vehicle is worth, and whether or not it actually meets your needs.
Once you walk into the dealership, you’ll have the confidence in knowing what you’re looking for and can compare your research against what a dealership is telling you.
2. Know Your Credit Score
The purpose of having a great credit score is being able to qualify for better rates when you are purchasing big-ticket items like a vehicle. It’s important that whenever you walk into a dealership, you know what your credit score is. This will give you a better sense of what you can qualify for when it comes to financing a new vehicle.
Don’t get pressured into less than ideal payments or financing options including higher interest rates by a dealership that tries to convince you that you qualify for much less than you actually do.
3. Shop With a Budget in Mind
Purchasing a vehicle is a big financial decision and it can be easy to lose sight of your financial goals when you don’t set a budget for your big purchase. To best prepare, calculate your finances so that you know what your financial limits are during the car buying process.
Once you have this number in mind, don’t go above it when you’re shopping for your new car. Having a budget allows you to stay within certain parameters and it allows you to shop confidently knowing you’ll be buying something you can afford and won’t end up regretting.
Setting a budget will also give you a strong defense from having a dealership pressure you into upgrading your vehicle choice or choosing something outside of your financial limits.
How much you should spend on a vehicle depends on who you talk to. Many industry experts, however, recommend spending no more than 10 to 15% of your income on your transportation needs. This includes gas, insurance, and maintenance costs. When calculating your budget for the vehicle itself, aim for about 13% of your income.
4. Explore Different Financing Options
It’s standard practice for dealerships to offer their own financing options to customers. While having an on-site financing department certainly takes the hassle out of car buying, it may not always be the best option for everyone.
One of the best things you can do is to check in with your bank to see if you can get a loan from them as opposed to the dealership. Often, you might be able to secure a much lower loan rate, especially if it’s a bank that you have a good history with.
This doesn’t mean you should ditch the dealership’s finance department altogether. If you can secure a loan from the bank with a great rate, take that information to your dealership as they may be willing to match the low rate. If they do, then great.
Some dealerships can offer great perks when you finance with them. Depending on your circumstances and a little negotiation on your end, you may be able to take advantage of these perks.
5. Read the Fine Print
When you’re purchasing a vehicle, you’re going to get a lot of information in a short amount of time, especially when it comes to the final steps of the car-buying process. The excitement of getting a new car can sometimes be overshadowed by intimidation too. This may leave you feeling like you should rush through signing all the paperwork involved.
Keep in mind, however, that this is the most important part of the car-buying process. Pause before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you read through the fine print and ask any questions you might still have. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if you get confused along the way, that’s a natural part of buying a new vehicle. It’s important to read through your documents so that you understand what you are getting into, and ask any questions whenever you don’t understand something.
6. Shop With Someone Who’s Been Through The Process
Sometimes, the best way to gain a little confidence as you purchase a new car is by going through the car buying process with someone who’s already done it. Shopping with a parent, sibling, or friend who has recently purchased a vehicle can help you in your own purchase.
If it’s someone you trust who has a little more experience in the car buying process than you do, it can come in handy when it comes to dealing with the dealership. A dealership will have a tougher time taking advantage of you if you’ve got the support of someone who knows how the process works, and what to expect.
Buying a new car is an exciting time no matter your age or the vehicle you’re buying. If it’s your first time working with a dealership, it can understandably be a little intimidating. While some dealers may try and take advantage of you, it’s fortunately not always the case, especially in today’s competitive market. Still, it doesn’t hurt to know these tips and tricks so that you feel better protected and more confident in your car buying experience.
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