If you are thinking about buying a new (or new-to-you) vehicle, there are many factors you will want to consider before you head to the car lot. Preparing ahead of time can help you avoid making a purchase you may later regret.
New cars vs. used cars
As you develop your budget, spend time deciding whether a new or used car might be the better investment.
- New cars can be ordered to your exact specifications, have never been in an accident, will be under a warranty and should require less in terms of maintenance or repairs for the first few years. The price tag can be higher.
- Used cars are typically lower in price than new vehicles, they avoid quick depreciation after purchase and they often include lower associated costs like insurance and registration. You may be able to get more "bells and whistles" for your money.
Finalize your budget
Kelley Blue Book recommends that buyers carefully calculate what they can afford before they begin browsing new cars. Be prepared, however, for costs beyond just the sticker price.
If you’re buying new, the features or accessories you want most might not be included in the basic invoice cost of a car. Other things to think about:
- Newer cars may lead to rate increases to your existing car insurance policy.
- Increases or decreases in your fuel budget for the new vehicle.
- Trade-in value of the vehicle you want to sell.
- Loan terms like length and interest rate, which determine your monthly payments.
Find a car that meets your priorities
Once you’ve set a budget, it’s time to think about what type of vehicle you’d like. The following are some of the most common things buyers look for:
- Fuel efficiency: Smaller vehicles or cars with alternative fuel sources are ideal for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint or pay less at the pump. Also, you might be eligible for additional discounts for purchasing a green vehicle.
- Passenger capacity: That convertible might look great now, but there’s no room for a car seat in the back should you need one in the future.
- Safety ratings: Pay attention to crash test results, rollover resistance, recalls for similar models, potential blind spots and level of rear-impact protection.
- Performance: Rapid acceleration, super-responsive steering and a turbocharged engine are often attractive to buyers who value performance.
- Climate-specific features: Cold-weather packages can be attractive for those in colder climates.
- Overall style and appearance: The look, design and even color of the car might be important to you.
Financing your purchase
Unless you’re paying cash, you’ll need car financing (also known as an auto loan). Compare several car finance options, from both banks and dealerships, to get the best terms. Read more about choosing the best car loan for you.
If you're ready for your next ride, learn more about auto loans and financing options.