For many people, the process of buying a vehicle, whether it is new or used, is a nerve wracking experience. Vehicles are typically the second biggest purchase most people make, and it can be tough to decide which vehicle would be best for you with car salespeople try to hustle you.
The best way to ease your car buying anxiety is to do some research so you know generally what you want, which will save you, and the salespeople, a lot of frustration.
First, consider your current vehicle. What do you like and dislike about it, and why are you trading it? If you need better gas mileage, a lower mileage vehicle, want to reduce your payment, or to upgrade to something more stylish, keep that in the forefront of your mind, since that is essentially your goal for buying a different vehicle.
Also think about how you use this vehicle the majority of the time. There are a lot of people that use huge vans and SUVs for commuting because they wanted a large family vehicle for the one week out of the year they go on vacation. Considering the amount most people would save on payments and fuel costs if they had a midsize or economy car, they could probably afford to fly somewhere and have some money left over.
Your goals for trading, as well as the primary use of the vehicle, should help you determine whether you need a vehicle fit for seven plus sports equipment, a truck, or a sporty two door.
What Can you Afford?
After you know what type of vehicle you need and what you are trying to accomplish, next comes the most dreaded part of the equation, pricing.
Determining a rough trade value for your trade and getting financing from your bank or credit union will also give you an advantage, since you will not be dependent on the salespeople for credit or payment information. Remember, no matter what salespeople say, the price of the vehicle is what determines the payment; so if you can spend $300 a month on payments, ask your bank or credit union how much money they will loan on a car for $300 a month. This will protect you from spending more than you intended.
Visiting the Car Lot
Once you know what you are after, test driving vehicles will be much easier, and you can tell salespeople you are still in research mode, and not looking to buy today, if that is your plan.
When you do find a vehicle you like that accomplishes your goals, fits your needs, and is within your budget, there are just a few more things you should check out before you take it home. If it is a used vehicle, you should have it inspected by an independent mechanic to ensure there are no imminent problems on the horizon, and you should do a quick check on auto insurance costs, either through a local source or online, to ensure that your cost of ownership will be reasonable.