​10 Tips Every Car Buyer Should Know

Matt Campbell
Creative Consultant for Lexus of Las Vegas
1. Explore your financing options in advance.
This includes discussing whether you prequalify for a loan with your bank, credit union or the dealership. Taking this step will help avoid later confusion about which vehicles are in your price range. Banks and credit unions are a good place to start as they often have great rates and this lets you shop around and negotiate purchase prices without having to worry about dealership loan rates, too.
2. Take your time before making a decision.
Despite the old stereotype of a pushy salesman, most dealerships want to make sure you have the right car for your needs.  Ask a lot of questions until you’re satisfied and don’t be afraid to just say “no”.
3. Check whether the dealership has any special rebates or incentives.
Special deals like rebates can save you thousands of dollars off your car purchase. They aren’t limited only to new cars either! Many dealerships have special discount offers on top of the already discounted rate for used vehicles.
4. Consider trading in your old vehicle.
This is another easy way to save a lot of money off your new car purchase. The dealership will typically use it as a down payment or discount its value from the price of your new car.  And you won’t have to hassle with selling the old car on your own.  Check the Kelley Blue Book price on the old car before you go car shopping if you’re worried about not getting value for it, but figure in the cost of refurbishing and repairs that you might need to make if you sell it yourself.
5. Embrace technology.
Many dealerships have websites that let you browse their stock from the comfort of home. Some will even give you a quote online. This can help you narrow down your research to a few vehicles and let you thoroughly research the pros and cons of different makes and models of cars. Of course, you’ll still want to check out your selected vehicles in person before you commit to buying. 
6. Always take a test drive.
No matter how well you think a car will satisfy your needs, it’s important to get a first-hand impression. There may be something about the feel of the car on the road, the driver controls layout, the seating or other features you just don’t like once you sit down in the car. And of course if you’re buying a used car, you want to hear any noises the car might make or notice other quirks that could signal trouble later on.  If it doesn’t feel just right, don’t buy it.
7. Be open-minded.
Even if you have your heart set on that cherry red convertible at the front of the lot, there may be a better model for you that you hadn’t considered.  Consider your driving needs and style and don’t overcommit or overbuy.  Most cars depreciate rapidly once you drive them off the lot.  Make sure the car is a smart choice that you’ll truly enjoy driving and can afford and will want around for a long time to get the most from your investment.
8. Focus on what you need, then what you want.
Think about the features your new car absolutely must have first. A great stereo system is nice, but not if there’s not enough room for the kids!  Long commute?  Maybe fuel efficiency is important.  Quality, comfort and reliability should be your must-have features so be sure you look for those first, then everything else is up to you.
9. Make sure the car fits your budget and your lifestyle.
Don’t buy more car than you can pay for. You’ll resent it later when you have to give something else up, or worse if you can’t make the payments.  When calculating your budget for your new car, be sure to include the cost of auto insurance and regular maintenance.  Auto insurance is mandatory in most areas and, like good maintenance, will protect you and your new car on the road.
10. Share your goals with the salesperson.
If you have special needs, budgeting concerns, or other issues about buying a car discuss them with the car salesperson up front. Most dealerships will work with you to find the deal that is right for you.  If you aren’t happy, don’t be afraid to ask for another salesperson or try another dealership.  Stick to your goals and enjoy your car buying process.  And, remember, there’s nothing like that new car smell!