When it comes to buying a car, the options may feel endless. You have hundreds of different makes and models to choose from. How can you know which car is best for you? Here are a few things to consider when purchasing a car.
Consider Payment Options
Consider whether you are going to pay for your car with cash or have it financed. If you are purchasing your car in a private transaction, or if you have a large amount of money saved up, you could probably pay cash. If you are purchasing from a new or used dealership or buying a higher-end car, a car loan may be a better option.
Look at Your Credit Score
Because repossessing an unpaid car is a simple process for the bank, you’ll generally find that a good or bad credit score will not have much of an effect on whether or not you can get a loan. However, your credit score can affect your financing and interest rates, as car dealerships will often offer their best deals and lowest interest rates only to customers with above-average credit.
Establish a Budget
A car dealership is an easy place to lose your brain. It’s all too easy to walk into the dealership, spot the car of your dreams, and fall so head over heels in love that you forget all about the price tag. That’s why you must establish your budget before you so much as set foot in a dealership. Your budget will be higher if you are looking for a fancy ride, or lower if you just want something functional to drive to work and back. Whatever the case, keep it realistic and don’t let a smooth-talking salesperson haggle you out of it.
Once you’ve decided what car you want and established a realistic budget for it, it’s time to go shopping. Don’t stop at one dealership. Shop around and compare prices between different dealerships. Car dealers are out to make a profit, so if you are a smooth operator and they suspect that you are taking your business elsewhere, you may be able to negotiate a better price.
Do a Quality Check
What condition is the car body in? Are there scratches and dents in the paint that will rust later on? Is there rust underneath the car? How are the tires? How about the interior? Is it clean and well-maintained? Are the seats full of holes and stains, or have they been taken care of? How about the carpets? Obviously, a used car in a private transaction might be a little dirty, and many messes can be easily fixed by a detailing service, but you can also take the interior condition of the car as an indicator that perhaps the previous owner did not care very much about maintenance.
Take a Test Drive
Under no circumstances should you put down so much as a cent on a car before you’ve taken it for a spin. Drive on the highway and residential roads. Keep an ear out for any strange sounds. Pay attention to any rattles, any lights that come on that shouldn’t, or any lights that fail to come on when they should. Do the windows open and close nicely? Does the key turn in the ignition easily, or does it jam? What does the engine sound like when it revs up? Are the gas and brake pedals too loose? Do they stick? Does the car accelerate and brake slowly and hesitatingly? Pay very close attention to every little detail. Some things may just be inconvenient, such as a loose knob on the radio, but cars are made of many intricate parts, and the smallest thing out of place can often indicate some serious and very expensive problems in the future.
Consult the Make and Model Records and Reviews
The best way to know whether the car has been consistently maintained is to consult the make and model records and reviews from people who have previously owned the same kind of car. Of course, there will always be complainers, but if multiple people mention a certain part of the car needing regular repair, that may be an indication that you will have trouble in the future.
Buying a car doesn’t have to be a scary process. Be pragmatic and use common sense, and you should be able to find a car that works for you.