Each year, car manufacturers inundate the market with more than 400 new makes and models of vehicles. Even if you are sure you want a new car, this makes for a long and intimidating list of vehicles to choose from! It may seem like you have a dizzying array of options to sort through before you arrive at the perfect car for you. Luckily, you have this Buying Guide to help you make sense of it all!
Of course you will want to test drive any car that makes your short list, but beyond this necessary in-person activity, most of the research you need to do can be performed online. And in fact, you will want to do 95 percent of your research online to be sure you only test drive practical picks.
If you still feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole process of researching a new car and being sure you get the most for your money, these 10 questions will help organize your search!
The Internet is Your Research Partner - You can compare and contrast everything from gas mileage to safety ratings, crash test reports to trunk space on the internet. You can also use the internet to generate price quotes, compare financing options and look at warranty and extended warranty options. You can also take advantage of the new breed of specialized Internet Sales Managers (ISMs) whose sole task it is to help Internet Buyers (i.e., you) automate your online research process.
A 1-2-3 Step Process - First, make a list of your top features in priority order. Next, get your insurance quote to be sure you can afford insurance for the car you are looking at. Next generate some quotes for financing. Now you should have a short list of vehicles that made your final cut. At this point, you are ready to go for a test drive.
Test Drive Your Short List - Taking a test drive is about moving beyond the research and deciding what you personally like (or don't like) about each vehicle. When you drive each car, pay attention to visibility, seat comfort, whether you like the dash display and where the controls are located and safety issues like pickup and brake controls. Only by doing a "hands on" road test can you decide if that is the car for you.
Generate Some Friendly Competition - Once you have completed the test drive phase, you can start the process of getting dealers to compete to earn your business. The easiest way to do this is to generate free price quotes online from a number of different ISMs. After submitting your request, you will be contacted by each ISM. If you encounter any ISM who won't give you a price quote up front, tell them you won't do business with them and move on. If you get a price quote on a vehicle you really like but it isn't as low as you want, then look for a lower quote to use to get that ISM to lower their price. If you play your cards right at this stage, you will have dealerships falling all over themselves to deliver the low price quote and get your business (which can be quite fun!).
Take Your Time! - Because buying a new car is right up there as one of the biggest ticket items you will ever buy, it pays to really take your time and do your homework. If you feel a bit nervous or overwhelmed, know this is only natural - and also wise, since you want to be sure you spend your funds well.
Finding Wiggle Room in Your Budget - If you have your eye on a vehicle that is priced beyond what your budget can accommodate, first take a look at manufacturer rebates and incentives. You can enter your zip code online to view the manufacturer rebates and incentives that are offered in your geographic area. Some types of rebates and incentives include low-interest financing (APR), cash back, freebies (such as free OnStar or free luxury upgrades) and more. Also be sure to note the safety features on the new car you are considering and contact your insurance company to find out if you might pay less on your monthly premiums because of these extras.