Buying a new (or new to you) car can be an exhilarating experience! Part excitement, part apprehension. It can also be a difficult process: lots of thoughts, lots of questions, lots of emotions! Don’t let your emotions override your decision-making. It’s important to take some time to research, to gather up the most pertinent information, and make the best possible decision on selecting the right car for you.
During these uncertain times, you might not want to make a big change. But consider this: with businesses (especially car dealerships) trying to get workflow and sales back to normal, this may actually be a very good time to purchase a car. This actually becomes a win-win situation: they want your business, and are willing to make a deal to get it, so you get excellent prices and much better financing terms. This also helps out a local business and stimulates the economy as a whole.
The financing aspect of purchasing a car is a huge consideration. Some companies have offered as much as 80 months (that’s 6.5 years!) with no interest. Meanwhile, the rest of your money stays in the bank earning you interest.
(FYI- If you are unable to purchase at this time, typically September is a good time to purchase this year’s model, since next year’s models come out at that time and the manufacturers are eager to move the old inventory.)
There are a number of sources you can use to research and investigate a car before you purchase. You can do these steps in order, or simultaneously.
I strongly recommend utilizing Consumer Reports. Personally, I peruse Consumer Reports before making any big-ticket purchase; and they don’t get much bigger than a car! Consumer Reports comes in paper and electronic form. The magazines are available in all library branches, and the articles are available on our website. Click this link here to view and search for articles in Consumer Reports. (You may need to log in with your library card and PIN.)
Consumer Reports provides an issue dedicated to cars each year. You can view our electronic issue of the 2020 cars here: 2020 Auto Issue. In most Consumer Reports, and especially the Auto Issue, the reviewers rate and rank the cars, based on the size of the car (there are sections on Pick-up Trucks, Sedans, and SUVs, to name a few). For each car reviewed and listed, the experts provide the most important information, like the cost and drivability and gas mileage. These rankings make it easy to select cars that provide you with what you value most.
After you have perused Consumer Reports, make a list [of three, or as many as you need] cars to check out further. The next two things you need to do: view the car and research the car. For research, go on the dealership’s website and take a virtual tour of the car, and read all about the car and the options available and the price. You can also email the dealership and chat with a member of the sales team.
If you find yourself warming to the car, also be sure to check out other websites for more info, including customer reviews. We have so many resources on our library page for additional car information, available here on Library’s “Automotive & DIY” page. Check out Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and/or NADA for trade-in value.
At some point, you will need to visit the car in person to see if you like the looks of it. If you don’t like how the car looks, you can eliminate that car immediately. If you are still interested in this particular model, have a chat with a salesperson, and have them tell you about the car. They will walk you through all the available options and perks and other important things about the car. Be sure to take any grandiose statements or exuberance with a grain of salt. At some point, you must take the car for a test drive. See how it handles, how you feel in the car, how it feels sitting in it. Could this car be the right fit for you?
So, once you have found the right car for you, it’s time! (But much like buying a house, don’t get too excited and tip your hand!) As mentioned previously, now is a great time to purchase a car because car dealerships are ready to move some inventory. So feel free to talk to the sales team, haggle, and make a fair deal. You might be able to find things online that can help with the purchase, such as coupons and timely specials and things. If you are able, you will often get good money back by trading in your old car. Next, sign up for the best financing deal available! If they have 80 months, take it! (Just please don’t forget to make your payments, or you will owe all the back interest). And finally, if there’s something you want (perhaps something to sweeten the bargain and clench the deal) just ask for it. It doesn’t hurt to simply ask.
Congratulations, you’ve made a very big (and very adult) purchase, one that will serve you well for many years to come. Take the keys and hit the road. Enjoy!