Buying a new car can be a challenging process. Between figuring out the right car for you, determining (and sticking to!) your budget, and interacting with dealerships, many people can become overwhelmed. Keep these helpful tips in mind and you’ll have a smooth and quick car buying process that will reward you with a car that’s perfect for you!

Determine Your Budget

For most of us, the most important thing when purchasing a car is to know your budget. Are you going to get a loan, lease the car, or buy it with cash? If you are going to pay cash, determine what’s realistic for you to comfortably spend to not only purchase, but also maintain the vehicle. If you are going to finance or lease the car, want to figure out how much you can afford for your initial down payment as well as for your monthly payment. This will give you a jumping off point to start you search for cars in your price range.

Choose the Right Car for You

Choosing the right car for you is also key to a good buy. First, you need to figure out the size car that will fit your needs. Are you looking for a coupe, sedan, or truck or SUV? You also need to figure out which car qualities are most important to you. When you’re researching makes and models, think about reliability, fuel economy, and the safety ratings of the car you’re looking to purchase.

At the Dealership

You want to plan a few things before you head to the dealership to look at cars. If you’re interested in test-driving a car that day, call ahead and make sure that the make and model you want is in stock and available for a test drive. Make sure the car fits you – adjust the seats and the steering wheel, and check your visibility to make sure you’re comfortable in the car. Be aware of “car buying surprises” when looking at a vehicle. To avoid a few common surprises, ask yourself questions like: Does the car have a spare tire or car jack? Can the back seat comfortably fit three people? Does your child’s car seat fit in the car?

Negotiate the Deal

When you’re negotiating the price of your new car, don’t let the dealer rush you through the process. The trick to a great negotiation is to set some rules and hold your ground. When you’re in this step of the new car buying process, you should already know the make, model, and average prices of the car you want. You should let the dealer know that you have quoted prices from other dealers, but don’t disclose any information. You also want to keep the negotiations for your new car and your trade-in completely separate. When the two negotiations are combined, the dealer has more leverage to give you a great deal on one end and a not so great deal on the other. Be calm, confident, and patient and you will get the best deal for your new car.

Get the Most for Your Trade-in

Getting the most money for your used car can be a difficult task. There are a few ways to make sure that you can get the most for your money. First, you want to make sure the appearance of your used car is in excellent condition. Next, if there are any minor repairs or damages to your used car, get an estimate from a mechanic. This can help give you some bargaining power with the dealer.

You could also try selling your car to a used car dealer or a private party. Typically, these options can give you a higher price for your vehicle than a regular dealership.

Review New Car Pricing and Fees

Before you go ahead and make your new car purchase, be sure to understand all the extra fees that are involved with buying a new car. The most common costs associated with a new car are vehicle registration fees, sales taxes, documentation fees, dealer fees and advertising costs.


Closing the Deal

When closing the deal for your new car, check the numbers to make sure everything on paper is the way you discussed in person. You also want to be aware of the dealer extras that are going to be offered to you. Many dealers offer extended warranties and other services that can be purchased for a lower price from a third party company.

Inspect Your New Car

Before accepting the delivery of your new car, be sure to thoroughly inspect it for dents, scratches, and other visible malfunctions. Make sure the car comes included with floor mats and a full tank of gas.

After the Sale

After everything is said and done, there are a few more items to keep in to get the most out of of your new car. The most important thing on this list is car insurance. Shop around to find the best deal that works for you. You also want to make sure you maintain your new car to make it last as well as possible. Checking your oil, tire pressure, and washing your car frequently are small things you can do to help maintain your new car!