Buying a car is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. (At least investment wise). Since a car is not something you buy very frequently, it is important to make sure you buy the car that best meets your needs because it will be staying with you for a long time.
Most people are also not expert in auto motives and may not know exactly what to look for when buying a car and usually only depend on random advice before making the purchase. But we are here to help you ask the right questions, research and then figure out what to buy.
There are a host of things you want to research on and look into, so we will take you step by step through the car buying process.
The first and foremost step is to assess what you actually need to buy a car for, what your needs are, how and for what will you be using the car? While some of us need to make a ‘statement’ with the vehicle we drive, the others only need it to get from one place to the other without a hassle. Someone might want a car that is good to the environment; someone might be interested in buying a car for racing or taking for spirited rides looking for more horsepower.
- Assessing your needs:
So assessing your needs before making the purchase is very important, it is also important to keep the following questions in your mind:
How many passengers do you need to carry?
What type of driving do you do? Is it primarily highway, surface streets, off-road?
Do you have a long commute and, because of that, is fuel economy important to you?
Do you need all-wheel drive?
What are your must-have features? Think backup camera, leather seats, Apple CarPlay, etc.
What safety features are important to you? Do you want blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking, for example?
What cargo capacity do you need?
Will you be using children's car seats?
Will you be doing any towing?
How much garage or parking space do you have?
The answers to these would give you a good sense of the type of vehicle you are looking for.
Financing is a very important part of the purchase which is why you need to first decide what kind of payment option will you be going for – lump sum, installments or purchase lease. You also decide what amount from your savings/income you are willing to put aside for this particular purchase.
- How much are you willing to spend?
You might want to do a cost benefit analysis to assess what price tag is the right one for the benefits you will be getting.
If you're looking to lease, aim for a monthly payment that's less than 10 percent of your take-home pay. You'll also want to factor in an additional almost 7 percent of your monthly income to cover fuel and insurance costs. Knowing your budget will help you negotiate.
There are several affordability calculators/apps available online to help you decide what price bracket should your car fall in, in order to meet with your finances.
Deciding on whether you will be leasing or buying your car is important. Each of these have their own benefits. You need to decide what you will go for depending on your need and your cash situation.
- Decide on the payment plan
While buying allows you to easily sell the car at any point in time, add personalizing touches, and lower expense in the long run – leasing will allow you to trade in your car every now and then for a newer, more modern version with all the latest technology with most of the repairs falling under the factory warranty. You will decide based on what your priorities and requirements are from the vehicle.
Do you have your eyes set on a particular car and it’s falling in your bracket too? I would still suggest you take a tour and look for more cars meeting your requirements. The automobile market is so advanced, new models hit the road every other day, and you never know you might find something made out of dreams. This will help ensure you haven’t missed an even better choice.
- Start looking
If you know the kind of car you want like a Sedan or an SUV, you can just start looking in the relevant section for all available choices.
Buying a car is not just a onetime expense. You do pay majority of the amount at one time or as per your lease but maintenance and upkeep of a vehicle is a running expense.
- Calculate the cost of ownership
Some cars may be cheaper to buy but more expensive to own. Even if two cars have about the same price, one might depreciate faster or cost more to insure and maintain.
Before you commit to a car, you should estimate its long-term ownership costs. These include depreciation, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs. It can help you make a smart decision up front that can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the car.
We don’t even buy a chair without sitting and testing it out several times, then what makes you think you will buy a car without taking it for a test ride. Because the truest test of the features is when you’re using it.
- Test drive that baby
A few things to look out for during the test drive:
Try driving the car in both stop-and-go traffic and at highway speeds. If you trek to the mountains, see if you can find some nearby 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, check the back seat thoroughly if you will be carrying passengers to see the level of comfort. If you have a baby make sure the space is enough to carry a baby seat comfortably. It would be better to bring yours to the drive. Take photos just in case so you can refer back to them later on.
Listen to the sound of the engine, the stereo; check the navigator, the lights and the overall interior.
Once you are completely satisfied with your choice and have tested it out thoroughly, get your finances in order and make the purchase.
- Seal the Deal
Follow these guidelines and research and assess your needs and you will be good to go car shopping. Happy driving!