Do you remember getting your driver’s license, and shortly after your “new” car? The excitement of calling your mom or dad’s 10-year-old Volvo your own was enough to make your heart pump, as you envisioned all of your newfound freedom. It didn’t really matter the make or model then, because you were finally driving!
Fast forward to today, and boy have things changed! Consumers are overwhelmed with choices, such as make, model, style, colors, features, not to mention all of the technology! If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, make a pit stop here before heading to the dealership, for our most helpful car buying tips.
Our Favorite Car Buying Tips for Frugal Families
Make a Plan
You’re a family now, and you demand more from your ride than ever before. With everyone’s comfort and needs in mind, it’s tough to know what you might really need. That’s why it’s so important to make a plan before getting started.
We know, this sounds like one of the most obvious car buying tips. But what we mean is, don’t wait until you need a new car (if you can help it) to start getting ideas about what vehicle you might like next. If you feel like a new car may be in your future, start figuring it out now.
Knowing what you want and what you should pay takes some time and market knowledge. Thankfully, websites like CarGurus, Edmunds, and Autotrader are a few of the free resources you can tap into. A little prep here could potentially save you thousands. (And who isn’t interested in car buying tips that can potentially save thousands?)
In this day and age, cars are lasting longer than before. (For the price of many new cars, they better be!) If you’re currently driving a paid-off vehicle, pick an approximate car payment amount and put it into a separate bank account. This way, when the time comes, it will help you buy your next car in cash, or at least provide a decent down payment.
READ MORE: USING A SIMPLE HOUSEHOLD BUDGET TEMPLATE
Narrow Down Vehicle Types
There are so many vehicle options today–roadsters, sedans, mini-vans, small, mid-size, large and oversized SUVs, and trucks–that your head may be spinning with all of the possibilities. With car manufacturers trying to make products that can be all things to all people, you need to know what you need, and that what you buy will truly serve your purpose. If you go to the dealership with too open of a mind, you may get lost in the options and leave in a frustrated huff. (Don’t do that–keep reading for more car buying tips instead!)
Be smart about what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes, the things we want aren’t right for us. If you know that you’re frequently going to take your family of four, plus two grandparents, out to dinner, don’t even think for a second that seating for five will work. We promise you, it won’t.
Similarly, think ahead a few years about how your family may change or grow during the years you plan to own your new vehicle and make that part of your considerations, too. Times flies, and those growth spurts happen all too quickly, too! (Unfortunately, even our very best car buying tips can’t help you there!)
Know what features you want, and determine nice-to-haves and must-haves. Aside from what is starting to be seen as standard features, such as backup cameras and sensors and Bluetooth connectivity, there are so many cool upgrades available on new cars today. As technology progresses, things like 360-degree birds-eye-view cameras, push-button start, air-conditioned seats, and panoramic sunroofs are becoming more available. In the land of car buying tips, it’s super-important to know what features you can and can’t live without.
Read More: 10 BEST ROAD TRIP CAR GAMES
Do Your Homework (Before Arriving)
If you go to the dealership looking to be educated about a vehicle or its options, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You can be met with a lot of half-answers such as “I think this feature comes with this package.” or “this feature isn’t available on that package.” If you’re not careful, you could walk away thinking your new car can do things it just can’t.
When you know what trim levels offer features as standard versus optional, you might save a few thousand dollars by not feeling forced to buy the next trim level up just because you want one particular feature.
Keep Emotion Out of It
Don’t fall in love with any particular vehicle at the dealership. You may find that the dealership has only one vehicle of a certain color or with a particular feature in stock. The dealership will use this as a way to get you to bite now, due to “limited stock.” Chances are, there are three or more dealerships relatively close to you, that may have what you want as well.
You can also make your deal online in advance, before heading in. Let a few dealerships fight for your business. If you tell them everything you want in a car, they can do their best to entice you to come in. Heeding these car buying tips will help ensure that you keep a level head throughout the process.
Pick the Right Power
A more powerful engine is not a waste of fuel. In an effort to save a few gallons of gas or a few dollars, people sometimes think a smaller engine will be “good enough.” However, if you plan on chauffeuring a vehicle packed with family, pulling a boat or just being able to merge or pass with confidence, you’ll want something that gets up and goes when you need it to.
Focus on Finances
Have your finances in order. Of all of our car buying tips, this one is probably the most important. Don’t wait for the dealership to tell you what they will offer you. Have it in your back pocket. Find out what your bank or credit union can offer (and pre-approve) you for. If the dealer can make the deal better, go for it. Just don’t be stuck thinking they’re your only choice.
Read More: 5 HELPFUL TIPS FOR BUDGETING THIS YEAR
Consider Pre-owned Possibilities
Don’t be afraid to look at a certified pre-owned car. With most manufacturers, a certified pre-owned vehicle will come with a better warranty than its brand-new counterpart. There are typically units available with less than 10,000 miles, 5,000 miles or even 1,000 miles. Considering one of these car buying tips can save you thousands, and get you the extra features that you require (or just desire).
There you have it, our nine best car buying tips. What do you think? Did we leave out anything you think is a “must” when vehicle shopping? If you have great ideas that work, let us know! And if you’re heading out shopping now, good luck!
WANT TO READ MORE?
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