Buying a New Car? Read This First!
If you're in the market for a new car, don't start having nightmares about multiple trips to dealerships and having to deal with in-your-face dealers just yet. Technology, coupled with the fact that many dealerships are now actively marketing to women, can make your search and purchase easier than you ever thought possible.
In fact, everything but the final step of picking up your new car can be done online. The trick to this type of virtual shopping is in knowing what questions to ask yourself, and what information to look for, to ensure you make the best buying decision. Following are several tips to take you through the entire shopping process.
Determine The Best Vehicle For You
With so many different vehicle makes and models out there, including many new hybrid options, narrow down your options with these lifestyle questions:
- Are you passenger-heavy (for example, three kids and dog)? Look for storage and safety features, such as with hatchbacks or family-friendly crossovers.
- Do you have a long commute to work? Hybrids provide great gas mileage.
- Do you haul a lot of heavy items? A small truck or van might be your best bet.
Ask For Feedback
One of the most exciting new developments in the world of car shopping is the creation of new "social network" type shopping websites that allow you to easily solicit feedback from friends and family about your vehicle choices.
- Create your own personal page, like a MySpace page, post photos and information about your top vehicle choices, and ask friends and family to post their opinions.
- [Look for] shopping websites [where] car owners post vehicle reviews, which can be another valuable source of information.
Research Pricing and Get Multiple Quotes
The ability to get clear pricing is one of the greatest benefits of the Internet. We've all seen the low-budget dealership TV commercials where a frantic spokesman yells at the camera about "Ten percent off MSRP!"
In case you're wondering, MSRP stands for Manufacturer's Recommended Price. Decoding acronyms and esoteric vehicle descriptions is a snap with search engines like Google and Yahoo!
- Now you can research pricing for yourself online and decide if the asking price is fair, or inflated, and make sound decisions.
- Many auto shopping websites are also offering new ways to communicate directly with dealers, including message boards and chat features, so you no longer have to fill out a generic form to get a quote and then wait and hope the dealer gets back to you.
Get Pre-approved For a Loan
Having options, and knowing the dollar amount you can borrow before meeting with the dealer, gives you the upper hand in negotiations.
- Many shopping and dealership websites now allow you to get pre-approved for a loan online. It's fast and easy, and just as secure as entering your credit card number into big shopping sites like eBay.
- In addition, visit your bank or local credit union to compare rates. If you can secure a competitive rate before going to the dealership, the dealer can always offer to match it, but you won't feel obligated to accept.
Check the Vehicle History Report
If you've decided that a used vehicle is the way to go, don't buy without checking the vehicle history report. This is the best way to protect yourself against buying a vehicle with costly hidden problems.
- Vehicle history reports check vehicle records in important areas including title check (to see if the vehicle has been salvaged or rebuilt) and problem check (to ensure the vehicle has not been in a major accident).
Research Trade-In Values
You can sell your current car yourself, but it is often easier and faster to trade in your car when you buy a new one.
- Remember that you are effectively selling your car to the dealership.
- Take into account your car's condition and local market conditions, which will determine final value.
Armed with these tips and an Internet connection, buying your next vehicle can be fast, easy, and even fun. Seek out vehicle websites that cater to women and offer unique tools — like lifestyle quizzes to help you find the perfect vehicle, a social network platform, and the ability to communicate with dealers via live chat and message boards about the vehicles they have for sale — and your next car buying experience can be just as fun as shopping with the girls.
Thanks to our friends at DivineCaroline!
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