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How to Shop for a Car: The Do’s and the Don’ts

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Buying a car, whether new or used, can be exciting, stressful, and overwhelming at the same time. Even if you’ve done it a few times, there’s always that uncertainty about whether you’ll get the right vehicle. From finding a car with the features you want to budget and finding the right dealer, the process can be a lot for anyone. But with the correct information, this process can be less tiring, allowing you to find the right fit. This guide on how to shop for a car makes things much easier for you. Take a look at the dos and don’ts.

The Dos

Let’s start with the dos of car shopping.

Research the Kind of Vehicle You Want

Knowing the type of car you want will save you time and money. There are different types of cars, but not all of them will meet your needs. Consider how you want to use the vehicle. Does the car fit into your lifestyle? Factor in family demands, how often you’ll be commuting if other family members will be using it etc. For instance, if you’re a family of 5 to 6, a Sedan can be a great fit instead of a Mini Hatchback. The internet is a great source of information that you can use. By the time you’re walking into a car dealership, you should already know the type of car you want and its average cost.

Shop for a Car With a Budget in Mind

Unfortunately, sometimes the car you want might not be the same as the car you can afford. When shopping for a vehicle, understand the difference between these two. One of the mistakes that car buyers make is choosing a vehicle that is way above their budget. As you head to the dealership, understand how much you can afford for a car. Choosing something beyond your budget can be a source of financial stress later. Research cars within your budget for an easy time.

Understand Your Credit Score

Your credit score will determine the amount of loan you can secure. A credit score ranges from 300 to 850. Where you fall indicates the extent of risk you pose to a lender. A poor credit score means you’re a risky borrower and vice versa. Check your credit score and understand how it will affect your financing options. The best way to do this is to request a credit report from credit-tracking companies. They’ll help you understand where you are. If your credit score isn’t that great, the time you shop, you should also be working on improving your credit score.

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Consult With an Insurance Agent Before Buying A Car

The cost of insuring cars is different, depending on the model. Talk to an insurance agent and understand how much it will cost to insure your new car. Consequently, while you can purchase a car without insurance, you can’t drive it home without coverage. Even used vehicles need auto insurance. Get your coverage in order as you continue shopping. An insurance agent will help you secure the right coverage depending on your needs. If you’ve never worked with an insurance company before, research various providers before settling with one. Compare the specifics of what each insurer offers to get value for your money.

Get Advice From Your Circle

Ask your friends, family members, or colleagues for advice when shopping for a car. They are the most reliable source of information because they aren’t trying to make a sale. They’ll be happy to share their experiences with certain dealership stores and types of cars. This gives you an idea of where to start. Even if no one in your circle has bought a car recently, they can still have contact with people who can help.

Bring a Calculator With You

Your phone has a calculator, so you don’t have to bring an actual calculator with you. A calculator will help you understand the deal you’re getting. Do your own math and check for accuracy. The car seller wants to make a profit. They might throw some confusing figures at you if you leave the math to them. Calculate the total cost of that car, including all the fees and payments to be made. When the salesperson sees that you’re doing calculations, they’ll know you’re keen on maths.

Visit Different Dealerships With the Same Model You Want

Another tip on how to shop for a car is to visit different dealerships. Different shops can have different price tags and deals on the same brand. Even if it’s two local dealerships, they might have different prices. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to try if it can save you several hundred dollars. For instance, if you want a Subaru Forester, talk to 3 or 4 local Subaru dealers and hear the best price of each before deciding. This concept applies whether you’re buying a new or used car.

Be Prepared to Walk Away

Your power lies in your ability to walk away when you feel the deal isn’t great. Surprisingly, it’s also a dealer’s biggest fear. Unfortunately, most customers are afraid of walking away because they fear losing out on the deal already offered. Unless this specific car is in such huge demand that you can’t get it anywhere else, be prepared to walk away when the deal is bad. A car is a costly investment you’ll be stuck with for a while. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in a bad decision. Showing you’re willing to walk away can motivate the dealer to make you a better offer. The goal is not just to walk away with a great car, but a great deal too.

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The Don’ts

Now let’s talk about the don’ts of car shopping.

Don’t Let Price Be the Only Factor

When shopping for a car, price is a huge determining factor. However, it shouldn’t be the only thing you look at. Cars need maintenance, and this will cost you money. Some cars come with costly and hard-to-find spare parts, which can frustrate your car ownership journey. You’ll also need to insure that car, and this will depend on how much auto insurance you need. Aside from that, there are some monthly payments you’ll have to make, which will affect your overall budget. Factor in all these things when shopping for a car that’s right for you.

Don’t Forget to Test Drive More Than One Vehicle

When shopping, there’s one car that will immediately get your attention. But before falling in love with one specific car, test-drive a few just to get a feel of their comfort levels. You’ll also have a reference for comparison when you have driven multiple cars. You may find that other cars feel better on the road than the ones you have your eyes set on.

A young man sits with the door open inside of a black used car that’s outdoors.

Don’t Feel Pressured to Buy Expensive Add-Ons

Aside from selling cars, salespeople make a good amount of profit from selling add-ons. These extra products are valuable and can make your car rides much more interesting or easier. But at times, they also have high markups, which automatically increases the cost of the car. Before deciding on them, check if they are available outside the dealership at an affordable price. You also don’t have to buy them immediately after you get a car. You can get them later, after a couple of months or weeks, when you’re less pressured.

Don’t Start Negotiating by Saying You’re Paying Cash

Paying cash is great, but you must keep this information to yourself until the dealer makes you a good deal. Dealers get a good amount of profit from the financing options they give buyers. When you mention cash, they are less likely to give you a great deal as they know they won’t make good money on the car loan. If they ask about your financing plans, simply say you’re still deciding. After they have given you an offer, it will be hard to go back on their word once you say you’re paying cash.

Don’t Rush the Process

Don’t be in a hurry to get a car home. A mistake people make about how to shop for a car is being impatient. Most people get frustrated with the shopping process and settle for something they didn’t want initially. This will frustrate you in the end. Take your time shopping until you find something that makes you happy.

Don’t Sign Any Paperwork Without Checking the Details

Go through the paperwork and ensure it contains the details you agreed on. You can easily rectify an error when you’re yet to sign paperwork later. If you notice anything alarming, alert the salesperson for correction.

Final Thoughts on How to Shop For a Car

How to shop for a car doesn’t have to be a complicated process. With the tips mentioned above, you could end up with the car of your dreams. Once you have chosen the vehicle you want, allow ONIT Home to help you find a good auto insurance policy. Our team of insurance brokers will help you find the best deals and advise you on what’s right for you. Trust ONIT Home to help. Visit us online or give us a call today at 1-833-433-0331 to get started!

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