Car shopping can be a real chore for those of us who do not get excited over cars as a hobby, and additionally bothersome for those of us who have little knowledge about even the basics. Buying a car can generate all types of emotions, both positive and negative, fear being a common theme. What are we so afraid of though? Well, it could be any number of things.
How much can I afford? Am I being given the run around because I am less knowledgeable? Where should I shop? Is buying or leasing better for me? Luckily, a quick internet search on sites like TireKickers can get all these questions answered and make the process significantly less overwhelming. There are plenty of online car buying resources available at your fingertips as well. You do not have to be a car enthusiast to make an educated vehicle purchase, and you do not have to loathe the process. Below are five things to think about, before and during the process to keep things as effortless and manageable as possible.
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1. Determine Your Monthly Vehicle Budget
If you are already involved in the leasing habit or have a vehicle loan that you are paying off monthly, this could be a good place to start. Pending other factors have not greatly impacted your household budget since your last vehicle acquisition, use your current vehicle allowance as your benchmark for what will be comfortable for this new purchase. You have some inclusion options regarding budget also. Some consumers elect to lump all vehicle costs into one, IE payment, gas, and insurance, while others stick to simply what it costs to possess the vehicle, either way, this is step one. Once you have figured out what is comfortable for you this will narrow down your options in a good way, you won’t be wasting your time looking at things that you can’t afford, and potentially getting starry-eyed over features that you don’t need.
2. Consider Your Wants, Needs, and Lifestyle
What does this new car need to do for you? Aesthetics are important, but function trumps all. Think about what you need from your vehicle on a day to day basis. Make a list of these needs such as, passenger capacity, storage, and fuel mileage and use this list to search using your specific preferences as filters. Also, think about your current vehicle, what you love about it and what you wish was different. If you are planning to buy through a dealership vs. auction or private seller then have this conversation with your salesperson, they are the professionals and they might be able to get you to an answer quicker than you could on your own.
3. What are the Reviews Telling You?
Spend a little bit of time doing some competitive research for both facts as well and reviews from the perspectives of other consumers. Brand loyalty has its space in this discussion, but comparing a couple of different brands within the same vehicle category is easy, and will give you access to reviews written by actual owners, and knowing that you are reading words that are generated without bias is helpful. If you are doing this research through car blogs, you have the added benefits of Q and A forums or categorized articles. Sites like TireKickers are categorized in a specific way that is still user friendly so that you can obtain the facts even if you are a novice on the topic, or simply do not have the time to sift through tons of articles.
4. Where and Who Should You Buy From?
If you have decided to lease a vehicle, then the ‘where’ is decided for you, a dealership, but the ‘who’ is still up for grabs. Trusting a stranger can be difficult and being able to determine if the salesperson is motivated to genuinely help you, or simply make the sale is also tricky. If you do not already have a relationship with a dealership and/or individual, ask around inside your personal network of friends and family. These are people that already have your trust so if they have worked with someone that has yielded positive results for them it’s likely this will be the case for you as well.
Taking advantage of social media outreach can also be useful here, post an inquiry to your followers and ask for recommendations. There is no obligation to follow up and shopping around in this manner keeps you in the driver’s seat, pun intended. If you have decided you would prefer to own outright, check out local car auctions for their upcoming events and what inventory is expected to be available for purchase. A lesser-known option can also be through your mechanic, these individuals are specialists in another part of the car industry, but odds are they are interested in all parts of it. Some mechanics have relationships with private car dealers and can connect you to someone that can essentially do the searching for you and you just have to wait for the call that your next vehicle has been found.
5. Always Take a Test Drive
All the research, conversation, photos, and reviews in the world are never going to yield the same data as a test drive done by the consumer. Test drives are significant because they will allow you to experience the vehicle firsthand and test out the features you have deemed essential. Getting behind the wheel of the vehicle you intend to purchase is an incentive for both the customer and the seller because once you are driving the car, and noticing what does and does not work for you, both you and the seller have a more clear picture of where to search next if you decide to keep browsing. You need to get used to how a vehicle handles on the road to feeling safe and confident driving it permanently. Waiting until post-purchase to find out that the brakes are too touchy, or the size is too big for you to comfortably park leaves you without options that taking a test drive allows you.