9 Things To Consider When Buying A New Car

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Buying a new car is an exciting milestone and experience. At the same time, it’s also a major financial decision that requires careful research and planning. 

With the average Kelley Blue Book price of a new vehicle reaching $47,244 in February 2024, it’s important to be informed to avoid making costly mistakes.

From setting a realistic budget to timing your purchase, there are a handful of key considerations to weigh. 

To get the most out of your next new car, consider the following 9 important factors before signing on the dotted line.

With some upfront due diligence, you’ll drive confidently inside a vehicle that meets your needs and budget.

1. Set Your Budget

Your first step in buying a new car is setting a realistic budget. Make sure to account for the sticker price along with costs like:

  • Taxes
  • Fees
  • Insurance premiums
  • Estimated maintenance over time

It’s also wise to get pre-approved for a loan so you understand your financing options from the get-go. Finally, decide upfront if buying or leasing fits better with your budget and driving needs.

Set Your Budget

2. Define Your Must Haves

Make a checklist of the features that are absolute musts. Include things like cargo space for hauling, towing capacity, fuel efficiency ratings, and top safety scores. 

Prioritize the nice-to-have bells and whistles you’re willing to compromise on for more savings. Then, research which models and trim levels deliver your essential feature set.

3. Research Safety Ratings

When buying a new ride, safety should be among the top of your priorities. Check crash test ratings from organizations like IIHS and NHTSA as well as from the automakers themselves. 

Seek out models with top safety scores and cutting-edge driver-assist technologies. Don’t compromise safety for savings.

4. Compare Fuel Economy

Over the long-haul of owning a car, fuel economy matters. It impacts both your wallet as well as the environment.

Evaluate EPA MPG estimates and factor in fuel costs based on your typical driving patterns of city vs highway miles.

Compare efficiency ratings between gas, hybrid, and electric options to gauge real-world operating costs.

5. Examine Auto Warranties and Additional Protection Plans

Before you buy, understand what is and isn’t covered by your manufacturer’s standard new vehicle warranty.

Then, explore auto protection plans that provide additional coverage once your initial warranty expires.

Crunch the numbers on these plans. Compare them to the potential costs of repair bills you’d face without coverage to give you a sense of their long-term benefits.

6. Test Drive Multiple Vehicles

Specs and reviews can only tell you so much about a car. Don’t buy any new vehicle without taking it out for a spin on the road. 

Test drive multiple models back-to-back on the same route to compare ride quality, handling, visibility and passenger comfort. A sheet of stats can’t convey how you feel behind the wheel of your next car.

Worthy Reading:  Consider These 7 Vital Factors Before Buying An Auto Insurance Policy

7. Time Your Purchase

When you buy can be almost as important as what you buy. Research  when dealerships tend to offer best incentives  deals such as year-end and model year redesigns. 

Time negotiations right and you may score bigger discounts and savings. Let dealers compete for your business!

New vs Certified Pre Owned

8. Decide Between New vs Certified Pre-Owned

Do you want a new ride? Or, would you (and your wallet) be better off buying a certified pre-owned model?

CPOs provide cost savings on low-mileage cars with the balance of their factory warranty intact. New cars, meanwhile, have the latest features and no prior owners. 

Weigh the pros and cons based on your budget, tech wants, and intended ownership timeline.

9. Research The Resale Value

An often overlooked factor is how well a vehicle will retain its value over time. Higher resale value provides more options down the road for trading it in. 

Check expert sources like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to see which models are projected to hold their value best after several years of ownership.

Take The Long Road To Buying The Perfect New Car

Buying a new car is more than picking a color and considering your monthly payments. From setting a smart budget to factoring in resale value, there are many factors that impact your long-term satisfaction and ownership costs. 

Take the time to thoroughly research all your options. Look into safety ratings, fuel economy, warranty coverage, and more. 

Be diligent and strategic from the very start of your car-buying process.  In doing so, you’ll feel confident driving off the lot in a perfect ride that matches both your lifestyle and budget.

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