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4 min read Published October 21, 2022

Authored by Rebecca Betterton Written by Auto Loans Reporter Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely taking out loans to buy a car. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain confidence to control their finances with clear, well-researched information that breaks down complex topics into manageable bites. The Bankrate guarantee

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You have money questions. Bankrate can help. Our experts have been helping you master your finances for more than four decades. We are constantly striving to give consumers the professional guidance and the tools necessary to succeed throughout life’s financial journey. Bankrate follows a strict , so you can trust that our content is honest and reliable. Our award-winning editors and reporters produce honest and reliable content to help you make the right financial choices. The content we create by our editorial team is objective, truthful and uninfluenced by our advertisers. We’re open about how we are able to bring quality information, competitive rates and practical tools for you , by describing how we earn money. is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated for placement of sponsored products and services, or when you click on certain links posted on our site. This compensation could influence the manner, place and in what order items are listed in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage, home equity and other products for home loans. Other factors, like our own website rules and whether or not a product is offered in the area you reside in or is within your self-selected credit score range may also influence the way and place products are listed on this site. While we strive to provide the most diverse selection of products, Bankrate does not include the details of every credit or financial product or service. A new car purchase can be intimidating as well. One of the toughest elements in the buying process knowing where to start. From choosing the best car for your lifestyle and budget to negotiating a deal, there are a lot of steps to take. The cost of new cars is high due to rising inflation and the shortage of inventory . It is therefore crucial to be prepared for the buying process. If a car purchase is likely to be in the near future, follow these steps to ensure you find the most affordable the right vehicle for your requirements. Before you go to the dealership research. A lot of the research involved in purchasing the latest car is done before you even set the foot on the lot. Here’s where to start. Start by setting your sights. It may sound obvious, but the first step is to determine which vehicle you’d like to purchase, including what features are necessary versus just being good to be able to. Check pricing. Before you negotiate, know the current market prices and establish goals for the amount you are willing to spend. is a great resource for researching current vehicle pricing prior to stepping onto the dealer. Investigate the financing options. There are two primary options for car financing that you can choose from: and . There are pros and cons to both of them. Independent lenders might offer you a lower interest rate, but dealerships could have incentives -for examplewhen you get a loan via them. Make sure you do the math. The cost of owning a car is much more than the sticker price. Be prepared to cover additional costs, like , gas as well as insurance, registration tax and fees. Be sure to check your credit score. Similar to most purchases the credit score of your prospective buyer is an important aspect in your rate of interest. and before going to the dealership. Organize your paperwork. Be at the dealership with your driver’s license, payment method, and the proof of insurance. If you’re financing with dealers, then you’ll need evidence of income, employment and residency. Be preapproved for a car loan with at three lenders. It takes only just a few minutes to complete. A loan preapproval grants you the same negotiation power as a cash buyer and lets the dealer know that you’re serious. The majority of preapproval letters are valid for up to thirty or sixty days. When you visit the dealership: examining the car A test drive is one of the most important aspects of your car purchase. Explore every aspect of your car with your life in your head. Examine the specifics. It will be your car for a long time So be prepared to research the ins and outs to ensure that you’re getting the best model for you. Are the seats comfortable? Can you easily access your spare tire? Is the trunk large enough? Create a test track. You can test the car within the exact conditions which you’ll be driving it in — along the main roads, in stop-and-go congestion, parking lots and on hills. If you aren’t familiar with the region well, explain to the salesperson about the kind of driving you want to do and tell them which direction to take. Start driving. Take some time as you check the brakes as well as park in tight spaces and verify visibility. You’ll also want to monitor the road noise and smoothness of the ride. You can compare the vehicle that you are considering to your checklist. Do you remember the list of desirable items and necessities you created? Now that you’ve found a car make sure the car is in line with those priorities so you get the and life style you want. Let your emotions go. If you’re in the new car on the parking lot and enjoying the high-tech features and the fresh smell of the car It’s easy to forget about your budget and must-haves and let emotions take over. If you see a car you like, but it doesn’t match the criteria you set, head home and think about the purchase prior to making a final decision. On the road: Deal-making Once you’ve selected your ideal car You’ll have to be ready to make inquiries and negotiate to get a good deal. Check for deals. Dealerships can offer special pricing according to the day during the week. Search for special pricing or rebates prior to meeting a salesperson. Don’t talk trade-in. Salespeople will probably insist on a trade-in , but it’s best to bargain on the price of your purchase prior to discussing the value of your previous car. This way, the dealer will not have a figure in mind based on the value of the vehicle you previously owned. Create a counter offer. Make use of the number you found while researching market value as your guideline. The key to a counteroffer is to not be so exaggerated that the seller will consider you a serious buyer while pushing back enough to obtain the best price. Make sure you negotiate with confidence. Negotiation is among the most stressful aspects of car purchasing. If you can negotiate with the best price on the cost of the vehicle and the financing provided by the dealer in the event that it is available, you may save big. Be sure to not rush your negotiation; always be prepared to walk out in the event that you aren’t satisfied with the offer. Be sure to read the small details. Before signing on the dotted line, you must read your contract thoroughly. Pay special attention to the cash due at the beginning, as well as closing costs and . A lot of these costs can be negotiated or waived through the seller. The final decision of buying an automobile will affect your budget for a long time, so make sure you’re ready when you begin the process. Do your research before heading to the dealership, calculate the numbers, and work out the exact amount you can afford to spend. Once you get to the dealer, you should leave your emotions at home and focus on your budget. Learn more


The article was written by Auto Loans Reporter Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the details of borrowing money to buy cars. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain the confidence to take control of their finances by providing concise, well-researched and well-written facts that break down otherwise complicated subjects into bite-sized pieces.

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