This post is sponsored by Cars.com, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’ve been in the market for a new car for a few months now and when I first mentioned that to my dad he was immediately like “make sure you take me with you so you can get a great rate” and “let’s go shop around now”. I don’t know if it was his immediate excitement or his urgency, but it made me anxious and pushed me to delay the process even more. I know he was coming from a place of love and care, but times are different now and the car buying process is easier. I wanted to share a few tips with you guys so you don’t make the same mistakes I did when you buy your next car.
Know your numbers – Run your numbers, calculate what you can afford and stick to it. Find out your credit score and use that to your advantage. Don’t feel obligated to finance through the dealership if you choose to go that route, in fact, I’d encourage you to finance with your bank or credit union. They tend to offer better rates.
Don’t rush into it – Take your time and don’t go after the first car you see or the first dealership you go to. The phrase “there’s so many fish in the sea” apply to both dating and buying a car. Compare. Compare! COMPARE! The same car won’t have the same price tag at different dealerships so don’t be afraid to shop around and find the best one for you.
Do your research – A lot of times you can find great deals on new and used cars online. In fact, Cars.com is an awesome resource for that. You can search by make, body style, price and even location and one of the features that I love about the site is they show you what people are currently looking at. The site has listings from dealerships as well as individual owners and it’s honestly a tool I’ve gone back to numerous times during my search.
Make a checklist – Buying a car is a serious investment, so you want to make sure you get everything you want within your budget. I have my checklist typed up in OneNote so I’m able to access it wherever I am and I reference it every time I’m looking at a vehicle. There are certain features I don’t mind compromising on like a sun roof, but there are others that I absolutely need to have like the vehicle being an automatic instead of a standard.
Make sure you keep the “total cost” in mind – Yeah, that cash car might only have a price tag of $5,000 with 125k miles on it and it sounds like a great deal but that’s not always the case. Make sure you account for registration and fees, insurance and maintenance when it comes to buying a car. Cash cars are nice, but those are fees you have to pay out of pocket every time. You might be able to get the maintenance done for free (at least for a short while) when you finance a vehicle at a dealership. Figure out what works for you and your budget and go from there. I know it’s difficult to pin point exact budget figures for vehicle repairs and maintenance, but Cars.com has a great tool that I’ve used to help me finalize my budget and I’ve told friends about. You can get estimates for certain services and even find service shops near you!
Remember slow and steady wins the race and make sure you enjoy the car buying experience!