Shopping for a new car is by turns exciting, stressful, memorable and terrifying. When you head for the dealership, you are going to be facing an adversary that wants to put you into the highest priced car on the lot. What should you do? What should you know? Should you even go?
The Business section of Gildshire Magazines has your back. Here are the five steps necessary to make sure you get the right car.
1. Know to the Dollar How Much You Can Afford: Gather your last three months worth of pay stubs. Add them up, divide by three and multiply by 0.2. That is the most you can afford to lay out in car payments. When you add insurance into the mix, you’re looking at 25% of your net pay. It has to stop right there! The sporty little number that looks so good under showroom lights will be a source of resentment if it sucks the life out of your wallet.
2. Don’t Fall in Love With the First Pretty Face You See: If you know what class of car you want (economy, hybrid, sport, SUV, etc.) consider other cars in the same class. Like the looks and styling of the Prius? Take a peek at the Fusion too. Have you always wanted a Mustang? The Challenger may be less expensive, and ith as much curb appeal.
3. Know What Your Trade-In is Worth: There are many tools available to find out if you are getting a good value on your current vehicle. Kelley Blue Book is just one. There is also AutoTrader and Edmunds.com. The salesperson will know his/her boundaries if you can say, “This is what my trade-in is worth” as the dealing begins.
4. Perform an Informed Test Drive: If you have a long highway commute to work, a ten minute spin around the neighborhood won’t tell you what you need to know. Likewise, if you travel into the mountains a flatland test isn’t sufficient. Test drive the car just as you would drive the car in your day-to-day life. Test drive alone or with a friend or significant other. If the salesperson insists on coming along tell him/her that you will try another dealership.
5. Sleep on It: Walk away. The car-shopping experience takes the energy that you need to make a decision. Tomorrow morning, after a good night’s sleep, the answer will come to you. If it doesn’t, perhaps you haven’t found the right one yet.
Whatever car or truck you choose, take it easy for a week or so. No matter how much you love it, your new car is new to you. It drives differently, brakes differently, and handles differently than the vehicle that came before.