• How to Buy a Car

    While the process may seem simple on the surface, most shoppers can benefit from a few pointers when it comes to knowing how to buy a car. Like anything else, buying a car becomes much easier with experience. Here are a few tips to point any shopper in the right direction:

    Determine your needs:

    • This will also help determine what you may want to spend on a car. Shoppers who are considering starting a family may want to eliminate two-door models, just as those living in urban settings probably won’t want to consider pickup trucks.
    • Figure out how much time you have to shop. This can determine how far you can drive for a good deal. It’s great to be able to make your shopping experience into a weekend road trip, but that flexibility isn’t always possible.
    • Using the Internet (Craigslist is an excellent resource to judge the local used car climate) to look outside the 20 to 30 mile range close to home can bring up some excellent potential vehicles.
    • Once it has been located online, all it takes is a quick phone call or email to determine if a vehicle is worth seeing in person.

    Buying new:

    • New cars are great, but as everyone knows they take an immediate hit in retail value as soon as they are taken from the hands of the dealer. This drop in resale value may be worth it when things such as bumper to bumper warranties and free scheduled maintenance are considered
    • Dealerships will generally be happy to work out financing details before purchase, but it never hurts to get a quote from another loan provider first.

    Buying used:

    • When looking at a used vehicle it is important to research typical problem areas so you have some idea of what questions to ask the seller.
    • One useful site for this type of research is CarSurvey.org (www.carsurvey.org). While it does house the occasional bitter former owner, there are quite a few useful reviews. At the very least, a quick investigation of a particular popular car may reveal an interesting trend in reliability or overall owner satisfaction.
    • If budget is an issue, a low mileage used car will probably be your best bet. This is when a certified used car can provide a good compromise. These are often vehicles that have been returned to the dealer after a lease period, so most have been rather well maintained. Many will feature a factory warranty for a respectable period of time, and secondhand buyers will not face as much of a depreciation factor should they ever decide to sell.
    • The third option is a lease. Leasing can make sense if you definitely want a new car and plan on moving to something different in a somewhat short period of time. Leases are a good choice if you drive approximately the same mileage every year.

    Try not to get intimidated when it comes time to look at a vehicle of interest. It is important to take your time and see if the car you are inspecting is truly what you want. At the same time, try to avoid getting too excited when you do find your dream car. This can keep you from overpaying or buying a problem-riddled vehicle. If you can remember to approach the situation lightly, it will make both you and the seller more relaxed. This will provide an overall better buying experience and hopefully take some of the pain out of the time spent searching. Be sure to check Autos.com for more helpful buying information.