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Getting your new wheels

Buying a car is probably going to be one of the first big purchases that you make. From someone who loves cars and has been through my fair share, I urge you to take some time in this decision. Knowing what you want and being informed will save you time, trouble and money. Here are some quick tips to car shop like a seasoned pro.

Know what you want.

Make a list of your “wants” when it comes to car. Then also make a list of your “needs” or “must haves”. This will come in handy knowing what your deal breakers are versus what are you willing to do without. If you can find a car that has all your “needs” and most of your “wants”, that fits into your budget, then you’re in good shape!

Basics: Size (suv, two door coupe, sedan etc), color, drive type (RWD, FWD, AWD), transmission type (manual or automatic)

Features: Leather, heated seats/steering wheel, navigation, sunroof/moonroof, tinted windows, fuel economy/hybrid

Know what you can afford

Hopefully you’ve read the earlier post about budgets, if not, I urge you to go back and read it. This will help you understand what you can afford to pay each month in a car payment. Getting into a long term car loan that is above your means, is not going to be a fun situation for you. Also you’ll need to consider insurance premiums on a new car and also a down payment when financing the car. If you’re not used to financing a car, insurance companies make you carry full coverage auto insurance, which is going to be much higher than a liability only policy that you might be used to. I almost always recommend buying a certified used car as brand new cars lose a lot of their value as soon as you drive it off the lot. Buying a one or two year old car gets you the benefit of having a new”er” car but at the discounted price the previous owner lost when they drove it off the lot for you 😊


Use the internet to your advantage

These aren’t the old days where you have to drive from lot to lot and speak to sales reps all day. Do your research online. Using sites like are helpful where you can start searching for cars types you want and start seeing what local dealerships around you have in stock and what their prices are. This will help you save time and narrow down where you need to go to test drive cars. But don’t stop there, research the car and check the price they are asking and see if it’s a reasonable price. You can use sites like (Kelley Blue Book) to see if the dealers price is inline with the value of the car. You can also get accident history, previous mechanical issues and previous owners info from sites like CarFax. Do all the research you can.

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Negotiating the deal

Once I’ve done all the above and I’m comfortable with the car and the asking price, It’s time to make my move. I like to come in and be honest with them. Car salesmen aren’t as slimy as they once were or are perceived to be. I come in, I tell them what car I’m interested in, how much I have to put down, and what I want my monthly payment to be. Once I give them all that info, I tell them to call me on my cellphone if they can make the deal happen, if not, no worries. And then I leave. You are more than welcome to sit there for hours letting them go back and forth with the finance guy, but I like my approach as it shows you are knowledgeable and you mean business. They’ll call you at some point and tell you that they think they can make that happen for you and to head back in to take a look at final numbers. Again this is all based on my experiences, but it’s typically not the number you asked them for but it’s somewhat close. This is where you need to be prepared, there are a million auto loan calculators on the web. Have one open and ready on your laptop or tablet when they bring you back numbers. Plug in the price they are giving you, the interest rate they are giving, term of the loan and any other information they provide, into the calculator and match it up with the payment they are proposing to you. Several times I’ve caught that these numbers don’t add up, called them out on it, and got my payment lowered. Always always always be informed as much as possible and prepared to double check everything. Once you’ve all got this figured and agreed to the terms, it’s time to sign paperwork.



This is where they ship you to another person in the “finance” department to finalize the deal and sign papers. This person will try to sell you every upgrade they can as they go through the paperwork with you. I just recommend listening very closely to what they are telling you, and ask a lot of questions. Once you are comfortable you understand what they are pitching you, make an informed decision that you feel is best for you and your situation. I tend to decline all the offers they throw at me, but you may feel differently. Just ask questions. Once that is done, you’re done, and you’re ready to drive your new wheels off the lot. Congratulations.

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