Car Shopping Tips: What You Must Know Before Buying a Car
Are you planning to buy a car soon? The car-buying process can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time making such a big purchase. With so many factors to consider, from the make and model to the price and financing options, it’s easy to feel lost and confused. However, fear not! The Kelley Blue Book team has gone through the car-buying process multiple times and has some valuable lessons to share. In this article, we will explore key factors that every consumer should consider before buying a car, helping you make an informed decision and avoid costly mistakes.
1. Test Drive for Comfort
Before purchasing a car, it’s crucial to test drive it to assess its performance and handling. According to Andy Bornhop, Senior Vehicle Reviews Editor, “Don’t buy a car without actually sitting in it first.” The test drive allows you to check out the car’s technology and convenience features and make sure it meets your expectations. It’s also an opportunity to evaluate how comfortable you feel behind the wheel. Andy advises against buying a car that doesn’t fit well, as it will never be comfortable for you. Consider the comfort and accessibility of other passengers as well.
2. Shop During the Day
When shopping for a used car, avoid buying at night or in the rain. It’s important to have proper lighting to assess the car’s condition accurately. Jason Allan, Principal Editor of Vehicle Reviews, recommends online shopping to avoid the stress of in-person browsing. First-time buyers, in particular, should be cautious of getting deceived during the car-buying process.
3. Prepare Your Budget
One of the most important steps before car shopping is to know your budget. Trevor Spedden, Kelley Blue Book SEO Content Analyst, suggests not looking at cars costing more than your budget allows. Consider the additional costs such as dealer fees, sales tax, vehicle registration, and vehicle inspection. Leave room in your budget for maintenance and repairs as well.
4. Prepare for Repairs
While repairs are inevitable, there are ways to keep the costs down. Trevor advises paying for minor repairs out of pocket if they are slightly higher than your insurance deductible. Save your “accident forgiveness” for more severe accidents. Learning basic car repairs, such as changing oil or brake pads, can save you significant money.
5. Understand the Cost to Own
Owning a car involves various expenses beyond the purchase price. Be aware of registration and tax requirements in your state, as they can significantly impact your total cost of ownership. Regular maintenance and services, such as oil changes and inspections, can also add up. Don’t forget to consider insurance premiums, which can vary depending on the model of the car. Inflation can also affect the cost of operating a vehicle, including gas and oil prices.
6. Cargo Considerations
If you plan on using your car for road trips or need to haul equipment, having adequate storage space is essential. Ensure the vehicle’s cargo area is sufficient for your needs, and consider if it fits in your parking space at home.
7. Features Matter
Pay attention to the little details when choosing a car. Consider the ease of connectivity, accessibility and usability of controls, and advanced driver-assist and safety features. Don’t be afraid to buy a car with unique features that bring you joy and stand out from the crowd.
8. Bonus Tips
Keep detailed records of all car repairs, maintenance, and modifications. This can be helpful when selling or trading in your vehicle, as it demonstrates that the car has been well-maintained and can increase its value.
In conclusion, buying a car requires careful consideration of various factors to make an informed decision. Follow these tips from the Kelley Blue Book team to ensure a smooth and successful car shopping experience. Remember to test drive for comfort, shop during the day, set a realistic budget, be prepared for repairs, understand the cost to own, consider cargo needs, choose a car with desirable features, and keep detailed records. By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the car-buying process and make a purchase you’ll be happy with for years to come.