Car Shopping Tips for Smart Buyers

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Bailey Harris

When it’s time to buy a car, there are certain things you should be aware of. Unless you’re a particularly savvy car buyer simply heading out the door with your checkbook and a determination to return with a car will probably lead to buyer’s remorse. You need to be informed. Following are a few car shopping tips for smart buyers.

Decide on the Vehicle You Need

Whether you’re shopping for a new car or a used one, doing a little research ahead of time will benefit you when you’re ready to hit the bricks. Before heading out decide what your automotive needs are.

  • Will you be hauling a lot of stuff? If not, you can probably rule out a pickup truck.
  • Do you plan on camping? Maybe it’ll be a good idea to consider a van. If so, will you need a full size van or will a minivan work?
  • A stay-at-home mom needs room for multiple passengers because they’ll more than likely be called upon to haul neighborhood kids to soccer games and music recitals. A minivan or large SUV is usually the vehicle of choice for those activities.
  • Although a sports car is attractive, is it functional?
  • A sedan is a favorite of American families. Two-door or four-door, front wheel drive or rear wheel drive?
  • If there are a lot of country roads or snowy winters in your area, then a four-wheel drive SUV or pickup may be called for.

The possibilities seem endless. The bottom line is to sit down and make a list of vehicles that have what you need and those that don’t. Selectively dismiss any that won’t fit your lifestyle or bank account. Start your actual shopping trip by taking a look at what’s left.

Leave Emotion at Home

You’ve done your homework and decided on a certain type of vehicle–let’s say you’re newly married with a child on the way. You’ve determined that what you really need is a minivan or small SUV. Now you confidently enter a dealer’s showroom and suddenly you’re distracted by a shiny, new two-seater sports convertible. Its flashy good looks beg you to throw caution to the wind and plunk down your hard earned money so you can enjoy the wind whipping through your hair as you and your spouse cruise along the interstate…and then you remember the baby? Where does the child fit into this fantasy? Nowhere, because that’s what it is–a fantasy. Smart buyers don’t fantasize, at least not when they’re shopping. They leave their emotion at home and refrain from considering any vehicle that won’t do what they need it to do.

Stick to Your Budget and Get the Best Deal You Can

Before entering a showroom, decide how much money you can reasonably spend on a vehicle. Don’t let the salesperson talk you into something that costs more than you can afford. They generally work on commission so it’s to their advantage to sell you the most expensive vehicle they can, but there are ways to make sure you won’t be taken advantage of. Be smart. Let them know that if you get a good deal they’ll get your business the next time you need a car.

  • Intelligent sales people won’t go overboard because they would like to have you as a repeat customer. Get to know the sales person. Let them know you’re on a budget, and then stick to it.
  • Quite often there will be incentives, such as rebates or low interest rates. Make sure the seller informs you about any and all incentives that are available. If you don’t understand what they’re talking about, ask them to explain again, in detail.
  • If you’re buying a new car, consider waiting until the new models come out and shop for models from the previous year that haven’t sold. Frequently you can come away with a very good deal that way.
  • If you’re trading in your old car, find out the approximate value before going car shopping. Knowing what it may be worth can help you get a good trade in price.
  • You don’t necessarily need a new car. A good used car with low mileage can come with a very good warranty and provide you with years of service.

Shop AroundBefore signing a contract, let the dealer know you want to think about it. Visit multiple dealers and get the best offer you can on a similar vehicle. A return trip may allow you to get an even better deal after you tell them about the other offers.

About Author: Bailey writes on many topics, including Auto Insurance Quotes for

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