Your car is a big investment. Next to your home, it can be one of the most expensive things in your life. But, much like your home, your vehicle should provide comfort and convenience, not stress.
You’ve likely heard horror stories of haggling in dealership parking lots or buying a car from the classified only to end up with a lemon but, rest assured, those missteps can be avoided. Simply follow these steps before purchasing a car, and you’ll end up with a safe and affordable vehicle.
Determine what you can afford
First, determine how much money you can afford to spend on your car — and don’t forget to factor in your insurance payments as gas expenses. Take a good hard look at your monthly budget and, as always, err on the side of caution. You don’t want your car to drain your savings or eat up all of your extra spending cash.
Select your vehicle
Now for the fun part: Use your price estimate to find the perfect vehicle for you. Shop around at local dealerships, online and around your neighborhood to find out how much new and used vehicles are going for.
Don’t be afraid to take a few weeks to do this. Dealerships often hold seasonal sales that are great for getting low introductory offers and warranty deals — and experts say you’re likely to find the best deal for new and used vehicles during the last few months of the year.
Do your research
Once you find a vehicle, you’ll want to start doing some research before you make anything official. Look up the vehicle’s ranking in safety reports and check to see if there are any recalls you should know about. Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety websites for more information.
If it’s a used car, look up it’s repair history on websites like Carfax and see if there are any red flags you need to know about.
Get the right financing
Now that you’ve looked at your budget, selected your vehicle and ensured it’s safe, it’s time to check out your financing options.
Unless you’re part of a very small population of people who can pay for a car up front and with cash, you’ll need to take out a car loan. That’s where a trusted bank can come in handy. Start by looking at which credit unions in Utah offer car loans that offer low-rate financing for new and used vehicles.
Stay on schedule
Ok — you have your car and you have your payment plan. The last piece of advice we’ll leave you with is simple: Stay on schedule when it comes to your car, particularly when it comes to payments. They’ll add up fast, and you don’t want to pay more than you have to when it comes to interest rates.
And, finally, don’t skip out on regular maintenance. A healthy car will last longer than one that’s neglected and, in the end, will save you more money.