6 Tips for Buying a New Car

Looking to find the perfect car that fits your budget? Check out these tips for buying a new car.

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If you're looking to find the right car for you, these tips for buying a new car may be helpful. The goal is to find one that not only fits your lifestyle but also your budget. Whether it's a fuel-efficient commuter car, a rugged off-road SUV, or a luxury sedan, here are a few tips for buying a new car.

1. Figure Out Your New Car Budget

Lots of cars are out there, and they have a wide range of prices. Before you start shopping for a new car, determine how much car you can afford. This means taking a close look at your budget.

Consider how much you can comfortably manage for a monthly payment and how much you can make for a down payment. And consider the other costs of owning a car, from registration and insurance to maintenance and repairs, when you're creating your budget.

Coming up with those numbers can help you avoid the temptation to overspend. Try to keep your budget in mind when you start shopping.

2. Know What Kind of Car and Features You Want

Think carefully about what kind of car you want and what kind of car fits your lifestyle. A sporty little two-seater convertible might look fun, but may not be practical if you're planning on taking the kids around town. Start with figuring out if you need a sedan, SUV, or truck, and then look at your choices.

Next, make a list of the features that are most important to you. If you have a long commute, then fuel economy might rank highly. If you like to go off-road, then four-wheel drive might be a priority. Get as detailed as you like to help make the best decision. If you simply can't live without a heated steering wheel, then put that on your must-have list.

3. Research Which Cars Meet Your Needs

Once you narrow down what you want in a car, do your research to figure out which cars are most likely to fit your needs. For instance, how many seats you need? Is a certain amount of cargo space important to you? Is your ideal vehicle gas, electric, or hybrid? Knowing what you want can help you quickly cross some cars right off the list of contenders. Knowing your budget can further refine that list. Spend extra time researching your favorites to be sure you can get what you want at a price you want before you start shopping.

4. Shop Around and Compare Prices

Everyone wants the best possible deal when it comes time to buy a new car. Comparing prices at several dealerships can help you save money. If one dealer has more of the car you want in stock, they may be willing to cut you a better deal to move that inventory.

Don't limit yourself to only physical dealerships. You can shop online at those same dealerships and even find some that are exclusively online. The benefit to online shopping is the ability to check a lot of inventory and get pricing information quickly. Take advantage of online and in-person shopping as you search for your car.

5. Go for a Test-Drive

No matter how good a car looks on paper, you need to drive it to know if it's right for you. Schedule a test-drive when you have plenty of time to carefully consider the car you're thinking of buying. Make sure the drive includes the kinds of driving you do in a typical day, whether that's cruising the highway or managing downtown traffic.

If you have kids, bring them and their car seats with you so you can see that everything fits the way you expect. Take a good look at the cargo room, the ease of moving seats in SUVs and minivans, and interior storage. Make sure the ride is comfortable, you can see well, and you can park easily, especially if you're considering a large vehicle.

6. Take Your Time — There's No Rush to Find the Perfect New Car

A car is a major purchase, so it's best not to rush the process. Take all the time you need to figure out which car is right for you. If you need more than one test-drive, then go for more than one test-drive. Ask as many questions as you need to be comfortable with your choice.

Never be pressured into buying a car before you're absolutely positive it's the right car for you. Consider sleeping on it before you make a final decision because the car will likely be there in the morning. If it's not, a good dealership, whether online or in person, will help you find another car that's right for you.

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Nicole Wakelin
I write about cars. A lot. That's because I’ve always loved cars and the fact that they regularly hand me the keys to shiny new automobiles so I can write about them is a constant source of amazement. I cover breaking news, write reviews, and attend auto shows and new vehicle launches across the country. The more winding the road and the more unknown the route, the better.