7 important considerations before buying a car
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Buying a car, for many people, is a massive resource investment -- and not a decision to take lightly. Not only will the purchase likely cost you money up front, it will cost you money as you continue to own the vehicle, as you spend money on things like repairs, maintenance and gas.
You need to make as close to perfect a purchase as possible to ensure that your new car will be the correct financial decision.
With all that said, here are seven considerations you must make before finalizing your choice:
1.) Consider your credit score.
If you want to buy something, you must first know what you can afford. Checking out your credit score will help accomplish that, as it determines the kind of financing and interest rates you can access. Getting a better deal can potentially save you thousands of dollars. If your credit score is poor, speak to your bank and see what you can do to improve it.
Rarely is a car purchase an urgent affair that must be accomplished within a day. Take your time and do your research. Consider what you really want in a car and what purpose it will serve. Do you expect to need it for long road trips? Will you need to seat more than five people, including the driver, comfortably? Is the car expected to take on heavy items? Those considerations will help ensure that you purchase the right model for your needs.
3.) Check the car model’s maintenance history.
Trying to determine what you’ll pay for maintenance and repair costs might not be easy to estimate. While you cannot truly predict how much damage your car will take or accrue, you can always get an estimate by looking up the model’s repair records. No car is 100% reliable, but you can at least gauge whether you can afford the car once you consider fixes and maintenance -- or if it’s now beyond your budget.
4.) Go for a test drive.
What seems good on paper does not always translate to a good experience. To truly know whether the make of car is right for you, you need to take it out for a spin. If the dealership is nice, you may even be able to test it in the conditions you require. An empty car will handle differently from one that is fully loaded, for example. If you can go for a test drive with some cargo or fully seated, give it a shot.
5.) Check out the car’s price range.
The same model of car can be priced differently, depending on what dealership you go to. A good way to sort out what price range you can expect is by checking out the Kelley Blue Book. It will give you the range of prices for the car, as well as the MSRP. Just be aware: Once you provide your email address to a site like Kelley Blue Book, you’ll likely receive some messages from dealerships. This isn’t a bad thing -- they might offer you deals you’d otherwise miss.
6.) Have a professional inspect the car.
Before you buy, most experts recommend having your car inspected by a professional -- if it’s anything less than brand new.
The moment you purchase a vehicle, any possible issues become your problem, unless you have a warranty, of course. Having a mechanic check out the car beforehand can ensure that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. A thorough inspection can be expensive and can cost upwards of $100, but that is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
7.) Know what you’re signing up for, legally.
When you purchase a car, you’re not just getting a vehicle: You’re taking on a whole host of legal contracts as well, from warranties to return policies. Figuring out your exact legal coverage can save you a lot of time and energy.
Buying a car can feel like you’re making a lot of big decisions all at once. But it doesn’t have to be stressful.
Sure, we’re talking about a financial expense and a commitment, but you can alleviate a lot of your concerns before they arise by preparing and going into the deal knowing what you want -- or working with a sales person or dealership you trust.
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