3 Tips for Buying a Car the Smart Way

Buying a car often quickly turns from exciting to groan-inducing. From dodging overly pushy salespeople to haggling for a fairer price, it’s no wonder that most people put off purchasing a new vehicle until they absolutely must. However, no matter how well you treat your vehicle, it’s inevitable that you’ll need an upgrade at some point. If you’re tired of going through the motions to get your hands on a new ride, here are some tips for buying a car the smart way.

Know Your Budget

Nothing will ruin your car-shopping experience faster than finding your dream car and realizing that you have no earthly way to afford it. That’s why it’s important to go in with a defined budget. Understand both what you’re able to spend and what you’re willing to spend, because oftentimes these two amounts differ. It’s always a good idea to pad your budget a bit, too, in case you do happen upon that dream car.

One thing that you should avoid is obtaining dealership financing. The smart move is to secure pre-financing from your bank or credit union. You’ll be facing much lower interest rates and if you have a lengthy account history, you’ll often be approved for better loans. If going through a bank isn’t an option for you, look around the internet for current interest trends. That way, you’ll know what the averages are and whether your dealership is offering competitive interest rates.

Do It Digitally

An excellent way to broaden your options and find better deals is by doing your car shopping online. If you’re looking to buy your next car online, you’ll have access to a much greater selection of vehicles, which means it’s much easier to find your desired make and model. You’ll also find much more competitive rates compared to dealership prices.

A great option for online car shopping is to find online car auctions. While many vehicle auctions are invite-only, plenty of car auctions are open to the public. By attending one of these auctions, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase both new and used vehicles at a fraction their original costs. When pursuing the auction route, look for retailers who are reputable in the automobile industry. If you find an auction house that offers buyer guarantees and convenient return options, all the better. You want to do all you can to protect your investment.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

A car is a sizable investment that isn’t to be made lightly. Depending on the purchase price and your monthly payments, you’ll be paying off your new vehicle for several years. That’s why it’s important to do your best to negotiate the terms of sale. Whether you’re trying to shorten the loan period or knock down the overall purchase price, it’s always a good idea to have a list of negotiation points. After all, the worst thing you’ll hear is “no.”

When it comes to negotiating, it’s best to start off at your absolute best-case scenario and work backwards from that. For example, if a dealer offers you a fixed monthly payment over a 48-month loan period, you could either request that same payment over 36 months or a lower monthly payment over the entire requested loan period. If a dealer is unwilling to budge and is inflexible with the payment terms, don’t be afraid to walk away from an undesirable offer.

Take Your Time

Unless you have an immediate need for a vehicle, don’t rush the purchasing process. It’s better to be a savvy shopper who takes the time than to be roped into buying a car at an unfair price. Do your research, have a clear notion of what you do and don’t want, and be prepared to negotiate. With a little patience and some know-how, you’ll be driving your new car before you know it.