Car Buying: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of the Auto Industry
For decades, purchasing a new vehicle was a straightforward process. You would visit a dealership, negotiate a price, complete the purchase, and drive off with your new car. However, the auto industry has rapidly evolved, offering consumers a myriad of car buying options. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran, it’s essential to stay informed and prepared. In this comprehensive guide, Renée Horne, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Chase Auto, offers five valuable tips to help you navigate your next car shopping experience.
1. Set Your Budget and Stick to It
When buying a car, expenses go beyond the purchase cost. Consider additional costs like insurance, maintenance, and fuel. To prevent your car bill from stretching your finances, it’s crucial to determine how much you can afford. If you plan to pay for the car over time, budgeting becomes even more critical. Chase offers various budgeting tools and tips to assist you in saving for your purchase.
2. Look for the Best Deals
Just like any other item, vehicles have price cycles. Generally, the end of the month and the end of the model or calendar year can offer better deals, as dealers may need to meet quotas or clear out inventory. Instead of purchasing a 2024 model in September, consider the 2023 model. Keep an eye out for holiday sales, such as Labor Day, as they often come with additional savings. To ensure you get the best price, consider multiple vehicles and shop around at different dealerships.
3. Test Drive to Determine the Right Fit
A test drive allows you to assess the overall look and feel of the vehicle, try out the interior systems, and determine if it meets your needs. Schedule appointments for test drives, ideally within a short time frame to keep your impressions fresh. To ensure an accurate assessment, simulate your daily driving conditions as much as possible. Test the vehicle with any car seats or equipment you use daily. After the test drive, inquire about the car’s warranty, fuel requirements, and maintenance needs. You can even ask for an extended test drive or get a second opinion from your mechanic.
4. Choose Between Financing and Leasing
Both financing and leasing have their benefits. When you finance a car with a loan, there are no mileage limits, and you have the freedom to customize and change the vehicle. After completing your finance payments, you own the car. On the other hand, leasing typically comes with lower upfront costs than loan payments. At the end of the lease term, you can choose to return, purchase, or trade the vehicle. Consider your travel habits, as most leases come with mileage limits, which may not be ideal for frequent travelers.
5. Is an Electric Vehicle (EV) Right for You?
With major manufacturers offering more EV options than ever before, it’s essential to consider various factors. When contemplating an EV, factor in the cost, maintenance requirements, range, and charging logistics. Generally, fueling an EV with electricity costs about half as much as fueling a similar gasoline-powered vehicle. However, electricity costs can vary based on your location, driving style, and battery size. Keep in mind that the initial cost of an EV may be higher than a traditional gas vehicle, but there are federal and local tax incentives available to offset the cost. EVs typically require less maintenance, although the weight of the battery may affect tire degradation. Additionally, consider the median range of an EV, which is approximately 250 miles on a fully charged battery. Plan your trips and familiarize yourself with charging infrastructure in your area.
In conclusion, being open to different options in the market is crucial when car shopping. Conduct thorough research and utilize available resources to determine the best car and financing option for you and your family. Chase offers online car shopping, financing, and education to assist you throughout the process. Stay informed, set your budget, explore the best deals, test drive potential vehicles, consider financing or leasing, and evaluate if an electric vehicle aligns with your needs. Happy car shopping!
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