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Buying a New Car

Mind made up and nothing but a new car will do? Hopefully, you’ve done the math by now and know how much car you can afford. Haven’t crunched the numbers yet? Check out our loan calculator and get started.

Once you’ve decided to buy a new car, your work is just beginning. But we’re hoping to lighten the load with the What, Where, How and Who of the new car buying process.

What

Where

Sure, the easiest thing to do is just go to the dealer that’s down the street from you. But they might not have the best deal on your car. Again, time to hit the Internet and do some research. Not all dealers are created equal. Check out their Web sites for their latest incentives. And ask around; you’re better off driving an extra 10 miles to go to a reputable dealer than to one that’s just convenient.

Like with used cars, the related links can also help you find the best deals on a new car. Search by manufacturer and model and see what’s out there in your price range.

Stop (and Finance)

Before you go to your dealer of choice to buy your new car and get roped into their financing, stop by your credit union and get pre-approved. Credit unions historically have the lowest interest rates in town and have money to lend their members. When you get pre-approved for a loan before you go shopping, you’re in a much better position when it comes to negotiating price. This will also help set your spending limit before you fall in love with a new set of wheels.

How

So you’ve got in mind what car you want, you’ve got your financing from your credit union and you’ve done your research – time to visit the dealer. Make sure you have a checklist of features you want and a solid idea of what purchase price is your bottom offer.

Keep in mind that many options are offered in packages that can make them more affordable. Dealers have the more popular options packages on the most popular vehicles on the lot, so take advantage of that. You’ll get a much better deal on a car they have in inventory than if they have to track one down. There are two things that will lower the price of your car come resale, and that’s no air conditioning and a manual transmission.

Once you’ve found your possible next car, take it for a spin—on your own. You want to concentrate on the car, not a dealer’s sales pitch. Don’t be afraid to drive it like you drive your own car, both on local roads and the highway, it’s the only way to get a true feel of how it handles.

Who

Don’t just settle for the first car at the first dealership you go to. Once you’ve negotiated the best price possible, get it in writing and shop a few more dealers. This is a major purchase and you want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want at the price you want.

If you find you’re getting stressed or tired, stop and start again another day. You and your wallet will be much better off if you wait until you’re reenergized and have a fresh outlook on the auto buying experience.