3 Essential Car Shopping Tips to Make Your Life Easier

Does your car have a name?

If it does, you are not alone. One out of every four people name their car.

Humans often become very attached to the car that takes them through life. The decision to purchase a new car is a big one and can be overwhelming.

Maybe you realized it was finally time to ditch your old clunker. Or perhaps your car was totaled in an accident.

Whatever the circumstances, buying a car is a big deal. After all, chances are you’ll have this car for many years to come.

Buying a car shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, it should be a fun and exciting experience. Who doesn’t love shopping for something new?

Being prepared and knowing what to expect when you get to the dealer will go a long way towards making your experience a great one. Keep reading for 3 of our top car shopping tips to help you choose the car of your dreams.

1. Do Some Research

The number one thing you can do to be prepared when visiting the car dealer is to do some research ahead of time. This will give you an idea of what you can afford and what makes and models fall into your price range. 

The internet is a great resource for this and you can learn just about everything there is to know about any vehicle.

Doing this research in advance will give you a better idea of what you are looking for and will help the car salesman narrow down your options when you get to the dealership. Going in with no idea what you are looking for is never a good idea. 

If you are planning to purchase a new car, do some research on the invoice price of the car. This is what the dealer paid the manufacturer paid for the car.

If you are going with a used car, look up the recent resale prices for the makes and models you are interested in.

Finally, if you are trading in your old car, find out what it’s worth. 

2. Evaluate Your Finances

Before you even start looking at cars you should evaluate your financial situation.

Make a budget if you don’t already use one and determine what down payment and monthly payment you can afford.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. Emergencies happen and you don’t want to choose a monthly payment that is too high where you have to worry about being able to make the payment.

Don’t spend your entire savings on the down payment either. If you choose a car you can afford, you will be more comfortable in the long run.

Don’t forget about insurance rates. When you research the types of cars you are interested in before you visit the dealer, you can also look up quotes to determine approximate insurance rates for the cars that interest you.

It’s better to be informed about what to expect when it comes to insurance than to be surprised by a high premium after you have already purchased a car. 

3. Choosing the Car

This goes without saying, but never purchase a car on impulse.

Not only could you later realize that you can’t afford the car, but you could also find that the car doesn’t perform the way you want.

Always, always test drive any cars you are interested in. Most people will do this, but some won’t.

Test driving a car goes beyond ensuring it is in good condition and performs well. Test driving allows you and your family to experience driving and riding in the vehicle and ensure you fit comfortably inside.

If you have kids, make sure they come along for the test drive. Their comfort is important too. 

When you test drive the car, you should be looking for a few things besides comfort:

  • Make sure the car runs smoothly and quietly
  • Ensure you can see out of each mirror and you can easily view all dashboard gauges
  • Check the accelerator and the brakes as well as how the car handles. These vary in sensitivity by car make and model and you want to make sure you choose one that fits your individual preferences
  • Check the controls in the car. Make sure that everything works and that the controls are easy for you to use. Some people have trouble using basic controls in certain cars due to the size of their fingers 

If you are planning to purchase a used car, make sure it is evaluated by a mechanic before signing the purchase agreement. A mechanic will be able to tell you if there is any unusual wear and tear on the vehicle or if there is anything that appears concerning or wrong with the car.

If there are mechanical problems or maintenance issues found by the mechanic, this could determine whether or not you buy the car. 

More Car Shopping Tips

These are just a few of our top car shopping tips. Buying a car, whether new or used, is a major purchase.

The more time and effort you put into preparing in advance of making your purchase, the more satisfied you will be long term. You don’t want to end up upside down on your car loan.

These days, car dealerships offer competitive financing and pricing. If you are considering purchasing a car, contact us today for more information.

We can help you navigate the car buying process and get you into a car that works for your lifestyle. 

How to Mentally Prepare to Buy a Car

Whether it’s your first car or your fifth, buying a new car is always an exciting time. Having the chance to let go of the old and embrace the new is refreshing. But car buying is also a stressful time for some people. 

If you’re one of those people who find car buying to be more stressful than exciting, it might be time to learn some great tips on how to prepare to buy a car. Knowing how to prepare for the situation relieves stress and unforeseen frustrations. Make your next car buying process hassle free and worry free by following a few easy preparation tips. 

Continue reading below to learn more!

Know What Car You Want

The best way that you can begin to prepare yourself for the dealership is to go in knowing what car you want. Do some research before heading in. Look up different car specs and have a narrowed down list.

Are you looking for an SUV, a coupe, or a new truck? This is important to know before heading out to the dealership’s lot. If you have no foundation, it may be overwhelming for you once you get there.

That will cause unnecessary stress. Even if you don’t have it narrowed down to an exact model, at least you’ll have an idea of what types of features you need, how much space you need, and so on. 

Work Out Your Finances in Advance

Another great way to relieve stress while car shopping is to have your finances worked out in advance. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to pay with cash or with financing, be sure to know your price point before heading out to the dealer. If you have cash, then this makes it a bit easier for you to determine a price point. 

If you plan on financing the car, have a good idea of how much you can afford in monthly payments. If you know your price point before shopping around for a car, you can narrow down your options. This makes the car buying experience much more enjoyable. 

Also keep in mind that just because a car’s listing shows a certain price, this is not the final price that you’ll be paying. There will be other fees added, such as taxes, tag fees, and title fees. The great thing about buying from a dealer is that they have the ability to take care of all this for you at the time of purchase. 

This saves you a trip to the DMV, but you’ll need to add the extra fees to your expected costs. Understanding this helps you have a better idea of which vehicles are in your budget. 

Check Your Credit Score Beforehand 

It’s best to check your credit score before sitting down at the dealership. Your credit score plays a big factor in the type of financing you’ll receive. Credit scores determine if you’re approved or not, the length of the loan, the interest rate on the loan, the monthly payments, how much you qualify for, and so on. 

If you take the time to check your credit score in advance, then you might have the time to correct it and bring it up if needed. This also helps you prepare for what to expect when figuring out your financing. By knowing what your credit score is before the dealer runs a check, you won’t have to deal with any surprises. 

Know the Best Time to Go 

Know the best time to make the trip to the dealer. This helps reduce stress as well. Don’t pick a time that is heavy in traffic as this might increase your stress levels before you even make it there. 

Also, consider whether it’s best for you to do your shopping on a weekend or weekday. What happens if you need to talk to your bank but they’re closed on the weekends? Some banks close on weekends, and most don’t open on major U.S. holidays, so keep this in mind. 

Plan to Take a Test Drive

Before you even have a specific car or truck picked out, plan to take a test drive. Planning to take a test drive in any vehicle that you’re thinking about purchasing is an awesome way to bring down your stress levels. Test drives give you the chance to see how you feel in the car, how it drives, and if it’s the right vehicle for you. 

This is when you’ll see if the vehicle has all the features that you’re looking for, if it’s comfortable, and if you can see out of all the mirrors. Don’t feel nervous about taking the test drive either. Understand that the dealer has set routes for you to take that significantly lower the risk of accidents and increase safety. 

Begin the Process Online

You should prepare yourself to spend some time at the dealer. Don’t go into the car shopping and buying process thinking that you’ll drive away in your new car in an hour or so. The best way to have a stress-free experience is to devote an entire day for the dealer. 

This way you won’t have to worry about rushing to get somewhere you need to be. You can also consider starting the shopping and buying process online. Visit the dealer’s website and browse through the inventory to save time when you arrive.

Prepare to Buy a Car and Eliminate Stress

Follow these helpful tips listed above to ensure the best ways to prepare to buy a car or truck and eliminate any unnecessary stress. Contact us now to begin your shopping or buying process today!

5 Tips for Finding a Used Car on a Budget

Only 41% of Americans use a budget to manage their finances.

But when it comes to buying a vehicle, the restrictions of your finances might force you to work within a budget. Finding a used car is one great way to save money on a car.

If you’re looking for a used car on a budget, there are a few tips that can make your experience a lot smoother. Half of those steps involve planning and the others involve how to go about buying your used vehicle.

Before you head to the nearest used car lot, read these tips so you’re prepared. 

Figure Out Your Budget, First

Before buying your car, you need to know exactly what you can afford. If you’re on a car budget, you should know exactly what that budget is.

Beyond the price of the car itself, you’ll need to think about costs like seasonal tires, maintenance, and service. There’s also fuel and insurance to consider. The costs for both of which will change according to the vehicle you purchase.

As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t take out a loan any more than 20% of your pay. The tighter the budget, the lower that percentage should be. 

Narrow Down Your Options

Inevitably, if you go to a car lot, you’re going to fall in love with a vehicle or two. It’s heartbreaking to find out you can’t afford a vehicle after you’ve got your heart set on it. For that reason, you should figure out what cars are affordable before you head out to look and test drive.

To figure out what car is best for you, first consider how you’re going to use the car:

  • Is it a work vehicle or a family vehicle?
  • Is it for long drives or short commutes to work?
  • Is safety a priority?
  • How much space will you need?

Of course, used vehicles are different than buying off of the lot in that they’ll have varying mileage, mechanical issues, and so on. But you can check the general dependability of a brand and model to make sure you’re getting a reputable vehicle. Consumer Report and JD Power both provide ratings on used cars.

We recommend making a list of three vehicles that you like. These should be a balance of cars that fit your budget and meet your needs. 

You can figure out what vehicles meet your budgeting needs with just a few pieces of basic information:

  • Year
  • Model
  • Make
  • Options
  • Mileage
  • Condition

With that information, head online and get an estimate of how much your desired vehicle should cost. Places like Kelley Blue Book will give you the estimated market value of your vehicles so that you can budget properly and be prepared for when you start contacting sellers.

Contact The Seller

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding a car you want, that fits your budget, and has all the options you’re looking for. But don’t grab your coat and keys too quickly. You should contact the seller first.

If you’re buying from a dealership, contact them to find out whether the car is in stock first. You can also ask them any preliminary questions that might affect your decision.

If you’re buying from a private individual, contact the seller first is even more important. This step gives you a chance to establish a good report with the seller. You can also ask them questions they may have left out of their advertisement, including:

  • If they have the service records and title of the car?
  • Are they the first owner?
  • What factors did they consider in their pricing?
  • Was the car inspected by a mechanic and would they mind you having it inspected?  

You should also ask them if there’s anything that wasn’t mentioned in the ad. The seller may have left an important piece of information out that will change your mind about purchasing the vehicle.

Always Do A Test Drive

The test drive is one of the biggest components of finding a used car that’s right for you. Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle gives you a better insight into how it drives, how comfortable is, and what condition the car is in.

When you’re test driving a vehicle, consider the following:

  • Are you comfortable while driving? Do you have enough space, support, and visibility?
  • If the ‘check engine’ light is on, you’ll have to have that checked before buying.
  • Do you smell anything strange like burning oil or gas?
  • Check the brakes respond well and without making any noise.
  • Are the tires okay or will they need to be replaced?
  • Do the options work? Check the air conditioning, the headlights, the brake lights, and the turn indicators.

Checking under the hood after the test drive is the best time to reveal any problems with the engine. After the test drive, have a look under the hood of the vehicle. Check for leaks, steam, oil, or anything that doesn’t look right. 

Get a Vehicle History Report

You should always get a vehicle history report (VHR) when buying a used vehicle. The only exception to this essential step is when you’re purchasing the car from a friend or family member.

To get a VHR, you’ll need the vehicle identification number (VIN). Sometimes you also need the license plate number. The report will tell you things like whether the vehicle has been considered a total loss or if the odometer has been set back.

Finding A Used Car With Us

Finding a used car on a budget first requires that you know exactly what that budget is, including additional expenses like maintenance and fuel. After that, you can start figuring out what cars fit your needs and financially and functionally. 

For a great selection of used cars at great prices, check out our inventory.

What Should I Look For When Test Driving a Used Car?

Even the most novice of used car buyers knows that a test drive can be a key step in evaluating a potential car purchase. Just like you wouldn’t commit to clothing without trying it on, you don’t want to commit to your long-term vehicle sight unseen.

Despite this, most buyers don’t know what to actually look out for when they get behind the wheel. Many drivers have a limited understanding of their vehicles. A test drive isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t know what you’re testing, and yet, thousands of drivers each year fail to prepare themselves for this important task.

What should you be looking out for when test driving a used car? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know. 

Gain Some Perspective 

It’s a simple truth: the more experience you have in an area, the better you’ll be at it. The same goes for feeling out vehicles. If your test drive is the first time you’re behind the wheel of any car besides your old model, you likely won’t be very sensitive to changes and finer details. 

That’s why it can be helpful to invest some time behind the wheel. Go to a local car dealership and take a few models you’re interested in our for a spin. The used varieties you drive might feel a little different from these brand new models: but that’s the whole point of taking them out.

You can begin to develop an expectation and understanding of how these cars work and feel.

That way, when you get behind the wheel of a used model, you’ll begin to notice areas that may have been affected by the car’s age. Do this enough, and this can become almost instinctual. 

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