Does the warmer weather have you dreaming of hitting the road in a new ride? If you’re thinking about buying a new car this spring, you don’t want to miss these key steps!


Research is the most crucial part of the process and it is multifaceted. There’s a lot of research that needs to happen before you even step onto the dealer’s lot.

Know what your budget is. Go to to see what you should pay for a car. From there, figure out your budget, think about what types of makes and models you can afford. Don’t forget to take into account the sticker price vs. what you’ll end up paying over the years in interest if you finance your new vehicle.

Know your credit score. Don’t go in wondering what the number will be. You credit score could make a world of difference in the amount of interest you’ll pay over time.

Research the kind of car you want and need. A sales person’s job is to get you to sign on the dotted line before you walk off the lot. They’re going to tell you that the car you’re looking at is the best car for you. But what you need to know is the facts about all the cars you’re interested in before you head to the dealership. This also means knowing the difference between what you want and what you need. Knowing which specs are would-likes and which are must-haves will make your position stronger during the entire experience. This will also make sure you come home with the car you want and not be victim to crafty upselling.

Make sure you’re going to a reputable dealership. Lots of dealers sell lots of cars and if you’re too focused on the lowest price, you could end up with a bad deal. Look at reviews from customers and the Better Business Bureau to make sure there isn’t a pattern of bad business practices.

Have a plan of attack with your buying partner (and don’t go alone). It helps to have a partner as you go into the car buying experience. It will make you feel more confident to have a teammate, which will help you stand your ground and negotiate a better price. While it isn’t exactly battle, it is similar to a game of chess. The better your strategy and preparation, the better negotiating you’ll do. Here is a list of things NOT to say when shopping for a car.

Test Drive

Test drive the car more than once. The excitement of driving a new car will last through the first test drive, but you will own this car for years and it needs to be more than just exciting. If you’re going to be mostly commuting to work alone, then that’s how you should test drive it. But if you have children, commute in a group or go on trips with friends a lot, you’ll need to bring the whole crew to make sure they comfortably fit in the vehicle. They will notice things that you might not have seen from the driver’s seat. You also need to know you can drive the car as safely with no passengers as with a full group.

Have a list of things you want. And when you’re looking over the cars and test driving them, double check the car against your list. Some people have a tendency to plan well beforehand then get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the car buying process. However, with list in-hand, you’ll make sure you cherish your investment for years to come because you’ll get everything you know you wanted.


Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Now that you’ve done the research, driven the car a couple of times, have compared it to your other cars, you’re ready to sit down and talk about price. Like it says in the list of things not to say, don’t tell them you want to keep your payments low. Be firm about a reasonable price. If you have the time, go to a couple of dealers and see who has the lowest price. Remind them you have a lot of options and be ready to walk out if you feel you’re not getting a fair price.

Ask them how much the dealership paid. Pros say the dealer must provide the dealer’s price vs. the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) upon request. Start your negotiations at $500 above that price. They don’t need to sell it to you for that, but it’s a good place to start.