Congratulations! Whether you have already made your choice on your vehicle or are now beginning the process of looking, buying a vehicle is a large personal and financial step. There are several things that you should do to make your car buying experience as smooth as possible. It is not something that should be jumped into and it does require a certain amount of due diligence on your part. Here are 6 things to check before buying a car.

Research

All things that should be taken into consideration before purchasing your vehicle:

  • What make, model and body style are you in the market for?
  • How many people will you be riding with you? Do you haul equipment or furniture?
  • How many miles do you drive a day and are they highway or back roads? Do you need a vehicle that has better fuel economy due to high miles?
  • Where do you live? Does climate/weather need to play a factor in the type of vehicle that you purchase?

All of these questions can help determine if you need a car, truck, moped, motorcycle, or SUV. There are so many variables in life that can and do change often. Sometimes this can affect the type of vehicle we drive.

Financing

When you are in the market for an auto loan, there are a wide variety of options to choose from. If you are choosing to purchase thru a dealership, they may be able to offer you incentives or rebates if you finance with them. Depending on your credit and other factors, you may even qualify for 0% financing! Other available options are thru banks, credit unions, and online loan brokers.

The following is a list of items to keep in mind when it’s time to finance:

  • Interest Rate
  • Term
  • Fees – some charge a flat origination fee, a document preparation
  • fee, or a prepayment penalty
  • Total payment amount

Always keep in mind that the original sales price of the vehicle typically does not include taxes, doc prep fees, or other options they may have added on. Be prepared to have this reflected in your payment amount.

Documentation

We all hope to be dealing with a reputable car dealer. Whether you are purchasing from a private seller or a big name dealership, it is important to know that the vehicle has a clean title that is readily transferrable upon the sale. Make sure any previously discussed pricing, additional add-ons, or premium options are put in print as soon as possible for your confirmation and verification. Make sure all the details are in writing!

Auto Quotes

It can’t be said enough how important it is to call several reputable insurance companies to get different auto quotes & comprehensive car insurance. The prices can vary drastically from one company to another. Lenders all have certain limits and coverage amount requirements; make sure that the terms are what are necessary for your needs. Before calling make sure to make a list of any special cost-reducing items like alarm system, daytime running lights, airbags beyond the ones in the standard locations, etc. 

When calling to get your quote, the last 6 of the VIN (vehicle identification number) is helpful to have as it serves to identify to the insurer the type of vehicle it is and most of the features.

Test Drive

Everything is all well and good until you get behind the wheel of the car and either fall in love instantly, need extra time for convincing or downright don’t like it. Don’t feel pressured into buying a car that you are not 100% convinced about. If you don’t like the way that car feels while you’re driving it or there is a feature or function that you want and it does not have, speak up to your salesperson. They may have something else in stock that suits your needs more.

Vehicle Inspection

Any vehicle that you are considering purchasing should be brought to a reputable mechanic so that they can check that all systems were maintained and are in working order. You may think that the car you’re looking at is beautiful – low miles, one owner, clean, drives like a dream well, what if the mechanic told you that you are correct with all of those attributes but the engine is about to go because the previous owner did not perform the proper maintenance? 

Or that the tires look great, but the rotors are bad and it looks like it never had a brake job? These are all things that a licensed certified mechanic can tell you that will save you time and money in the future.