7 Simple Car Buying Tips
1. Examine your needs
Look at your needs rather than wants, and you will quickly narrow the search for the right car. Unless this car is truly an extra, just-for-fun car, take the time to think about how you will use your car. Make a list of what you use your car for in a typical day, then for each activity add:
- How many passengers do you need to carry?
- What type of driving is this primarily: freeway, off road, around town?
- Are you a skier; will you drive in the snow?
- How long is your commute? Is good fuel economy important to you?
In too many cases, people choose a car for style instead of function.
Here are a few other questions to keep in mind when you begin your car-buying process:
- Manual or automatic transmission?
- All-wheel or 4-wheel drive?
- What safety features are important to you?
- How much cargo capacity do you need?
- Will you be doing any towing?
- Do you require adjustable seating positions?
- Will the vehicle easily fit in your garage or parking space?
- Do you have any other special requirements?
2. How much can you afford?
Unless you plan to pay cash for your next vehicle, you will need to consider a loan if you’re planning to buy. Regardless of whether you will buy or lease your next car, start by determining an affordable monthly payment. To arrive at a reasonable figure for your monthly payment, financial experts recommend that your total debt payment be no more than 36-40% of your gross income. Going by this rule, you can use the following steps to calculate how much of your monthly income you can comfortably afford to put toward your auto payments:
- Calculate what 36-40 percent of your gross monthly income is.
- Itemize and total all your monthly payments, including your mortgage/rent, credit card bills and loans, utilities, etc.
- Subtract the total of your monthly payments from the 36-40% figure.
- Use this as your monthly payment range.
3. Buy or Lease?
There are pros and cons to buying and leasing that might help you decide how to finance your next vehicle.
- More expensive initially and the monthly payments are higher.
- More flexibility; you can sell or modify the vehicle at any time.
- At the end of the loan, you own the vehicle.
- In the long run, your expenses are lower especially if you keep the car for many years.
- There are no unexpected mileage penalties for increased driving.
- Less money down and lower monthly payments.
- You can drive a new car every few years.
- You are building no equity in the vehicle; you are only paying depreciation, taxes, and fees. When the lease ends, you have to purchase the vehicle or start the process again.
- You can drive a more expensive car for less money.
- There are no trade-in hassles at the end of the lease. You pay any end of lease costs and walk away.
- Most leases limit the number of miles you can drive (typically 12,000 to 15,000 per year). You are penalized for exceeding your limits.
- Early termination charges can be costly.
- Any damage must be repaired.
4. Consider all vehicles in a class
Once you settle on a monthly payment you can afford and decide whether to buy or lease, be sure to consider all similar vehicles in that price range. An excellent way to start your search is to use the Find a Vehicle search on the Roseville Automall website. See below a search for all Makes of New Sedan in the $30-$40K price range….
5. Consider all of the costs of ownership
An important part of car ownership to consider is the cost to own and maintain the vehicle. While one car may be cheaper to buy, it might be more expensive to own. One might depreciate faster or cost more to insure and maintain.
Before you commit to one car, you should estimate its long-term ownership costs. These include depreciation, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs.
6. Schedule a test-drive
Test-drive the vehicles you are considering before you make a final decision. And most importantly, test-drive the car the way you would use it if you bought it. If you commute, drive the car both in stop-and-go traffic and at freeway speeds. If you drive into the mountains, find some steep hills to climb. Drive over bumps, take tight corners and test the brakes in a safe location. Get in and out of the car several times and be sure to sit in the backseat, especially if you plan on carrying passengers. In short, ask yourself if this car will suit your needs for years to come.
7. Making your decision
After test-driving several cars, the choice should be clear. If it isn’t, sleep on it. In the morning, you might have your answer. If not, you might need to take several steps back and drive more cars.
Making the right decision is important, especially if you plan to keep the car for a long time. It’s also good to realize that there isn’t one perfect answer. There could be several good choices and the final decision is really a matter of individual taste.
Visit the Roseville Automall and make your test-drive and comparison shopping very convenient. With 16 dealers and 22 makes of vehicle, you have the best selection and a friendly, knowledgeable staff to answer all of your questions and help you find the perfect fit.