Ultimate Guide to Buying a Car

Everyone loves to own a car and buying one is quite an important decision. This purchase will have an effect on your daily life for years, maybe even decades to come. So, it is vital to make the right purchase decision to ensure that you don’t regret it afterward.

The process of buying a car from start to finish can be quite tedious. But it is also an important process throughout which you need to pay attention to every detail if you want to get the best deal. Follow the direction in this ultimate guide to buying a car to ensure that you get the right car for yourself at a good price without a hitch. 

1. Decide Whether You Need a Car or Not

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Before getting into the process of actually choosing and buying a car, you need to figure out whether you need a car or not. Not everyone needs a personal vehicle. Many people are quite content with using other means of transportation. Therefore, you should:

  • Assess Your Needs

The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you need a car? Many people are completely satisfied without having a personal vehicle as they do not need one. Public transport is a cheaper and more environment-friendly way to travel around compared to cars.

The best way to figure out if you need to buy a car is to list out all the reasons why you need one. If you find that there are sufficient reasons to buy a car, you can proceed to the next step of choosing a car for yourself. 

  • Assess Your Finances

Cars can be very costly. These expenses are not just limited to the initial purchase of the car but also include the expenses of the car’s maintenance once you have bought it. You will need to buy fuel to run your car, which is also an expense to consider.

Consider every expense from the initial purchase to monthly car payments, fuel costs, maintenance costs, etc. If you cannot afford a car, it is best to save up for your first car.

2. Choosing a Car

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Now that you have decided if you need a car or not, the next step in the process of buying your car is to choose what car type and model you want. You will have to take a close look at your preferences and traveling needs which will help you make the right choice.

During this step, we will discuss everything you need to ask yourself before choosing a car so that you and your car can be a good fit.

  • Find the Type of Car that Best Suits Your Needs and Wants

Choose a car that best suits your own requirements and the needs of anyone else who will use it. The model and the type of car depend on your personal preference and needs. Whether you go for a sedan or an SUV, a convertible, or a coupe, what is important is that you have a good idea about the kind of car you want. 

An excellent way to determine this is to research online and find the best car models for yourself. It is better to know what models of cars you are interested in before going to a dealership. But remember to take your preferences, lifestyle, personality, and needs into account. 

For example, if you have a big family, you don’t want to buy a hatchback only to wish for extra space later. On the other hand, you don’t need to buy a 7-seater SUV if you have a small family.

  • Decide Whether You Want a Used Car or a New One

When finally choosing a car, the first thing you should decide is if you want a used car or a new one. Both choices have their perks. With a new car, you don’t have to worry about the car’s history. Their technology and design are also up to date. 

Another benefit of buying a brand new car is that most new cars come with at least a 3-year warranty. The downside is that it will likely have depreciated by twenty to thirty percent by the end of the year. 

An old car gives you more bang for your buck as the initial depreciation has been incurred by someone else. It can also last you a long if maintained properly (especially from the dealership) while also depreciating at a much slower rate.  The downside of old cars is that it is not easy to get a good deal on them and it is also hard and costly to maintain them.  

  • Research on Car Specifications and Prices

Thoroughly research the specs of the cars you are interested in. This will help you ensure that you get a car that fulfills all your needs. Also, research the deals and prices to see if they are within your budget. This research phase is an important part of the process as it helps you figure out your best picks. 

  • Make a List of Car Types and Models That Suit Your Needs

Now that you have come up with a few choices of cars which you think are suitable for your needs, it’s time to list them down and compare them. Jot down the pros and cons of each model and compare them. Any car with too many cons should be taken out of the list. 

Finally, choose the car from the list that has the most benefits and is best for you. 

3. Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Car

While choosing a car, you should keep the following factors in mind:

  • Reliability

Is the car you have chosen reliable? Even though new cars usually come with at least a 3-year warranty, you still want to choose a durable and reliable car. Do your research on the reliability of the car you choose. You can maybe ask the car owners or check out user forums for honest feedback. 

  • Quality

Research to find out if there are any known quality issues with your car that other users might have faced. Try to choose a car that is from a well-known manufacturer known for making high-quality cars. Remember that the newly introduced cars may suffer from various quality issues during their first year of production.

  • Cost of Ownership

A car costs a hefty sum in the long run. Therefore, expenses such as maintenance, fuel, repairs, and insurance should be taken into consideration. Deprecation of the car is another important factor to consider.

  • Gas Mileage

The gas mileage you get from a car must be considered beforehand, especially if you have a lot of traveling to do and cannot empty your pockets just on gas. 

4. Figure out What Payment Option is Best for You

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There are three common payment options provided by the dealers which you can opt for when buying a car. The most common payment option is financing. Financing allows you to borrow the money required to cover a car’s full price. Then you have to pay off that loan, usually every month with some interest. You can usually get financing for your car from the dealership or a financing institution.

The second payment option is to pay the full price of the car immediately. It is just like buying anything from the store. But in this option, if you don’t have enough money, you cannot buy a car.

Another payment option is to lease a car. This option is not very popular because if you lease a car, you are just renting it instead of buying it. Much like financing, leasing allows you to pay a down payment and then pay monthly payments until the lease is finished.

However, unlike financing, you only have to pay the amount of money the vehicle will lose as it deprecates instead of paying its full amount. The car needs to be returned to the dealer once the lease is over, allowing you to lease another one.

You need to choose an affordable payment option by taking your personal preferences and budget into account.   

5. Set Down a Budget

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Knowing what type of car you want, what payment option you want to go for, and the trade-in value of your vehicle will allow you to set down a budget. When setting down a budget, consider every expense. 

Take the expenses of buying the car as well as the future expenses into account. Then set down a budget that represents the amount of money you are willing to spend on buying a car. Ensure that the budget you set down is affordable. Assess your monthly income as well as your monthly expenses. 

Factors such as the cost of car maintenance, down payment, monthly payments for the car, fuel price, etc., are important to consider. If your budget does not allow you to buy a car, it would be best to wait until you can afford one.

6. Find Out the Trade-in Value of Your Car

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If you are going for a trade-in, it is a good idea to have an approximate idea of the trade-in value of your vehicle in mind. Do your research so you can get an approximate idea of what your vehicle will be worth in a trade-in

This way, when the dealer assigns your vehicle a value, you can reason with them. If you find their reasons are not good enough, you can bargain with them for a better price or find a new dealer.

7. Visit Your Local Dealerships

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Now that you have a good idea of your budget, what type of car you want, and what payment option is best for you, you can start visiting dealerships.

  • Talk to the Dealer in Detail 

If you have followed through with the process given in this guide up until now, you will probably know which car model you want. Be transparent and upfront. Talk to the dealer in detail and show them that you have researched the models you are interested in. Do not hesitate while negotiating the price of the car or any other fees. 

  • Test Drive the Car

When test driving the car, check everything to your heart’s content. Test every feature that the car boasts off. Check the cabin space and comfortableness to see if it is up to your expectations and standards. Ensure that the handling, brakes, suspensions, acceleration, engine noise, road noise, etc., are satisfactory. 

Check if the overall drivability is just the way you prefer it to be. Make sure that every feature of the car is working correctly and is per your preferences. Be thorough and test everything until you are satisfied. 

  • Get Quotes from Multiple Dealerships

If you want a good deal, you should get quotes from multiple local dealerships on the car model you chose. Ask them to provide you with clear car price quotes and then make a list of these quotes. 

  • Decipher the Price Quote

Now it is time to decipher these quotes. Separate the mandatory fees from the non-mandatory fees so that you can decide which non-mandatory fees you want to opt-out from. In the end, you should have a list of price quotes on car models you are interested in. 

  • Take Into Account All the Additional Costs

Now that you know how much the vehicle will cost, you need to factor in all the additional costs that will come with the ownership of the vehicle, such as maintenance, repairs, fuel, monthly payments, etc. This step is to ensure that the price quotes and the additional costs of owning a vehicle are still within your budget range.

  • Compare Your Options

Finally, it is time to compare your options. Compare all the quotes you got on the car and rank them from best deal to worse deal. While comparing your option, keep the additional costs in mind. In the end, you will be left with a list of quotes ranked from best deals to worse deals, and you can easily pick the top five options from this list. Now you can proceed to negotiate the prices.

  • Go Through the Vehicle’s History

If you are planning to buy a new car, the vehicle history should not be a problem. But if you are buying a used car, it is a good idea to ask for the vehicle’s history. Go through the vehicle’s history thoroughly so that you can avoid any car which has been in a severe accident or experienced any frightening recalls. 

8. Negotiating the Car’s Price

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Now that you have several quotes in hand and picked your top five options after deciphering them, you can move to negotiate the car’s price.

  • Be Prepared

An important part of coming to negotiation is to come prepared. If you have followed the guide thoroughly until now, you should be fully prepared. Make sure you have done your research. You should know what your budget is, the price of the car, the price quotes the dealers have given you, what your payment method is going to be, etc. 

  • Show Them that You Are Genuinely Interested

Show the salesperson that you have done your research. Let them know that you have already calculated what you are willing to pay for the car and are going to make a fair offer. Talk about retail price first and later discuss the monthly payments.

  • Negotiate Until You Get a Reasonable Price

Aim to negotiate for the best deal you can get. The idea is to negotiate the price with every dealer who has quoted you a price on the car and then go for the one that gives you the best deal. Be friendly and polite. Name your price and let them respond with a counteroffer. Keep negotiating until you get a deal you think is best and within your budget.

  • The Bidding War Approach

You can also go with the bidding war approach. In this approach, you can pit multiple dealers against each other, asking them to beat each other’s price. In the end, go with the dealer who gives you the best deal.

Once you have negotiated a good deal, you can move to the next step.

9. Carefully Calculate Your Monthly Car Payments

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Carefully calculate your monthly car payments and deposit after negotiating a price for the car you want. Do this calculation before signing the papers for the car. Ensure that the monthly car payments are exactly what you want them to be. 

Once all the calculations are done, you can go to a financial institution you prefer and get a loan. 

10. Handling the Paperwork

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By this point, you should have figured everything out and should have a good deal for the car you want. Handling the paperwork is the final step in the process of buying a car. You will have to register the car, sign the sales contract, and arrange for the financing. 

Bring all the necessary things, such as your driver’s license, payment, insurance details, etc. The dealer might try to sell you extra features, but it is up to you to opt for them or refuse. Once you have handled the paperwork, the car is yours.

11. Inspect the Car Again

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Once you have received your car, inspect it thoroughly again. Ensure that the car is in showroom condition and all the promised equipment is there. 

12. Enjoy Your New Ride

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Congratulations! You have brought your car. Now you can enjoy the ride alone, with family or friends. 

Conclusion

Your aim while buying a car should be to get the best value for your money while taking your preferences and needs into account. Although buying a car is a complex process, you can land on a perfect deal with the right information and knowledge. Hopefully, this guide helps you through the process and makes it easy to buy your dream car.