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Buying a Car: What to Look For

If you’re in the market for a new-to-you vehicle, there are some basic things to keep in mind while shopping around. Since most cars are a substantial financial investment, it is essential to be sure that your purchase is worth what you pay and will suit your individual needs.

Following are some tips on what to consider and things to look for when buying a car.

Consider the Financials

Do you plan to put money down or trade in a vehicle? Will you pay for the car in full or finance some of the difference? Crunching the numbers before you go shopping will help you know what you can afford. Create a budget and commit to it before you walk on the car lot or reply to the posting online.

If you plan to trade in a car, be sure you know its value ahead of time. Online resources like Nada and Kelly Blue Book will give you reliable price quotes that you can present to the dealer if they offer less than you think is reasonable.

Do your Homework

What kind of car do you want? What kind of car will fit your needs? What gas mileage does it get and will the car seats of all four of your kids fit in the back seats? It’s best to research cars that you are interested in before going shopping. Doing this will limit your selection, making your shopping time shorter and will help you come away with a vehicle that will best meet your needs, potentially avoiding buyer’s remorse.

Once you have an idea on what kind of car you want, compare prices of different companies and private individuals. Consider consulting an online resource like Kelly Blue Book or TrueCar for a pricing baseline of the vehicles you are most interested in purchasing.

Ask for the Car History

Even if a car is from a reliable source, they are complex machines and can develop or have issues. The best way to cover your bases is to research the title of the vehicle and search the car’s history using online search engines like CARFAX. Also, don’t be afraid to ask- many owners might have service records available.

Always Test Drive

Even if you’ve driven the same make and model before, it’s a good idea to test drive the particular vehicle you’re looking at purchasing. All cars are different, so making sure everything is working, and there aren’t any visible issues is essential.

Consider Safety

Safety is crucially essential when considering a new vehicle. However, there are some common safety misconceptions about cars to keep in mind. Safety facts are easily researched by make and model online; yet, some things that can only be brought to light in person.

In used vehicles, consider checking the tires for visible wear. If the tires do not seem visibly worn, check their manufacture date. Studies show that older tires are more likely to experience tread separation.

Invest in an Inspection

Although it is an additional expense, paying a mechanic for an inspection can save much more down the road if they find repairs are in the immediate future. If issues arise, consider asking the seller to make the repairs before the sale, or ask for a reduced sale price.

Read the Fine Print

If you’re purchasing a new vehicle, pay attention to the fine print. What kind of warranty comes with the car? What is the return policy? Does your state support a lemon law if the vehicle is unreliable? Often by the time the fine print comes out everyone is ready to be done with the ordeal, however, this can often be one of the most critical parts of the deal- so be sure to pay attention and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

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Buying a Car: What to Look For