Buying a car is an exciting time that’s often overwhelmed with a focus on the particulars: new car vs. used car, type of car and color. Before getting carried away with the details, there are steps you can take to put yourself in the driver’s seat.
Determine your budget.
One of the most important first steps down the path to new car ownership is deciding on a budget. It’s important to be realistic here – buy only what you can afford. From this budget, you’re able to determine if you’re in the market for a new or used car, as well as the types of vehicles in your price range. Most advisors suggest your total monthly expenses (car payment, insurance, gas, etc.) not exceed 20 percent of your income.
Clean up your credit history.
If you’ve seen your credit score and know it won’t get you the financing options you’d like, take a step back and reassess. If your new car purchase can wait, consider working on improving your credit first. Low credit scores will result in much higher interest rates, causing the final price of your dream car to exceed the sticker price.
Shop for money before you start shopping for a car.
Getting pre-approved for your new (or new to you) car loan gives you added confidence as you shop for cars and negotiate a fair price, putting you at an advantage when you’re ready to bargain.
Know how to work the dealer.
Before you stroll into the dealership, do your homework. Show up with paperwork on market values, trade-in values and financing options.
Know exactly what you’re buying.
Be wary of dealer add-ons and up sales. Add-ons like service contracts and extended warranties can inflate the price of your vehicle. Check with United Heritage first; we often offer the same products as the dealership but at a much lower cost. And of course, make sure to read all the fine print before signing anything.