Buying a car, whether it’s a new one or a used one, can be scary and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Keep these tips from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in mind to make the process as easy and successful as possible.
Before Going to a Dealer
There is a lot you can do to get ready before you even set foot in a dealership. Here are some things you should do so you are an educated and prepared consumer:
- Consider payment options. You often have two options: pay for the car in full or finance over time. Choosing to finance the car over time may mean less money upfront, but it increases the overall cost of the car if you are paying interest. If you do decide to finance it, be sure you completely understand the terms of the financing agreement before you sign.
- Leasing? Determine whether buying or leasing the car provides the best value for your money. A lease offers lower monthly payments, little money upfront, and restricted mileage. At the end of the lease the car is returned, and the process is repeated. Buying a car requires monthly payments and more money upfront, but once the loan is paid off, you own the car.
At the Dealership
Here are some things to do during your visit to the dealership:
- Take your time. If you don’t want to decide on your first visit, tell the dealer upfront. Let them know you want to take a test drive and will be making your decision on a purchase later.
- Go on a test drive. This is one of the most important things to do! Drive each model you are considering and try to do so in a variety of conditions (driving through traffic, on a highway, and on back roads). Take a test drive checklist with you to examine important characteristics of the car and check out all of the features.
- Decide if you are buying from stock or ordering from the factory. Sometimes you will get a better deal for a car already in stock, because the longer a car sits on the lot, the more expensive it is for the dealer.
- Ask about warranties and service contracts. Make sure the information on your warranty is detailed and includes whether the warranty is full or limited and what is covered, who covers it, and for how long.
Signing the Contract
Make sure all the features you want are listed on the order and pay attention to any extras or fees. If a clause concerns you, ask to have it explained or changed. Double-check all the figures to make sure they are what you agreed to. Make sure there are no blank spaces on the contract and all verbal agreements are in writing in the contract, as oral promises may not be enforceable. At the time of the purchase, make sure you take with you the bill of sale, purchase agreement, loan agreement, and registration papers.