Is it that time again already? Depending on who you are, buying a car can be the most exciting or stressful time that comes around every 5 to 10 years. Unfortunately, even though used car prices are finally cooling down, they are still 22% higher than last year.
Fortunately, if you plan your budget accordingly and do your diligence, you can still get a good deal on a new or used car in 2022. Here's what you need to know about finding the right cars, insurance, and car loans for your needs!
Choose the Right Car for Your Needs
First, you need to know what kind of car you want. Not all vehicles will be available in your area, but it's good to start shopping with an idea in mind, preferably with some backups.
For example, if you want a Toyota RAV4 more than anything, you may find that none in your area are in your price range. In that case, knowing that your second choices are a Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester will help you get ahead of like-minded buyers.
While that's one example, applying this thinking to your specific needs is essential. Here's what to consider before shopping for a new car.
Cars are not investments, meaning they don't appreciate in value as you own them. Cars are a luxury purchase that doesn't always feel too luxurious. This is something to keep in mind when you choose to buy a new or used vehicle.
In most cases, the optimal year to buy a car is 2 or 3 years ago. For most vehicles, the most significant depreciation happens within the first 2 or 3 years without sacrificing as much quality. Financially speaking, this is typically a better option than
buying a new vehicle that may depreciate by 30% within two years.
However, not everybody can afford such a new vehicle, and that's okay. If you need to go earlier, you have one significant advantage; time. Let's say you're looking at a 2010 Toyota Corolla.
In that case, there has been well over a decade for drivers to gain experience with these vehicles. Some were Uber drivers and delivery workers who put hundreds of thousands of miles on these vehicles. They can tell you what you need to know.
Find out the common problems with those vehicles and get a thorough inspection from a mechanic you trust, not one connected to the dealer. Ask about some common issues with the 2010 Corollas, like their O2 sensors, and verify that everything is running correctly.
This is the best way to make a safe and informed decision on an older vehicle.
Determining which car manufacturer to shop from is very important. Many manufacturers have more expensive parts, require specialized services, or have common problems. This is important to know before you shop.
American-made vehicles tend to have the most affordable and accessible parts. This is especially true for Ford and GM vehicles. However, many models do have a tendency to rust, and not all Ford and GM engines are known for their longevity.
Many Asian car brands have plants in the US, which make their parts extremely accessible. However, some may be challenging to find qualified mechanics for, like Subaru.
Toyotas and Hondas have a reputation for lasting the longest out of every vehicle on the road. This is something to remember, especially if you're shopping for older cars. That's not to say they don't have their problems, because they do.
Many European cars have excellent build quality, engines, and luxury. However, as a whole, they tend to cost more in the US, and parts are not always too accessible. Finding a qualified mechanic may also pose challenges!
You can only make so many statements about car manufacturers as a whole. The truth is that nearly all major car brands have some very high-quality vehicles and some that have some glaring problems. That's why it's essential to research a particular model
(and generation) before you buy one.
For example, if you hear that "Fords are prone to rust" and decide not to buy a Ford F-150, you may be surprised to learn that the F-series accounts for 90% of Ford's profits. That's because people know how good of a truck it is and are willing to pay
more. Don't pay too much attention to generalizations; research the particular model for information.
More importantly, it would be ideal to focus on a model that fits your needs. Will you be transporting a family and your children's friends around frequently? Is it a commuting car, a work vehicle, or a camper car?
Assess your needs based on what you can afford and how much you need. Always look at cargo volume, towing capacity, and other specifications applicable to your needs.
Choose a Reputable Dealer
Buying used cars from dealerships is tricky. Used car dealers are notorious for dishonest or unethical business practices. However, this isn't true for every dealership.
Fortunately, we live in a world where you can easily verify a dealer's reputation. Go online and search for a dealership. Don't just look at the "star" reviews; read what previous customers had to say.
A bad review could be because a customer showed up when the dealership was closed. It's essential to read experiences from previous customers and see what they had to say.
If the results were overwhelmingly positive and there were a couple of negative reviews, this is nothing out of the ordinary. If the reviews are overwhelmingly negative and make specific claims about the dealership's negligence or shady business practices,
then it's best to find a different dealership.
Get the Car Inspected
Even if you trust a dealer or salesperson with your life, they don't know everything about the car. Hundreds of used vehicles likely come through their lot each year, and they only receive the information from the auctioneer or previous owner. We all
know how the game of "telephone" can play out.
You should always test drive a vehicle and look for issues, but we're not all professionals. Sometimes, it's best to leave
it to those who understand cars.
For used cars, there's a lot that can go wrong. Once you've found a car that seems right for you on paper, take it for a test drive and bring it to a trusted mechanic that offers thorough pre-purchase inspections. These should include:
- Suspension system
- Fluid check
- Checking for leaks
- Hose inspections
- AC and heat inspection
- Mechanical inspection (windows, doors, etc.)
- Basic safety equipment
- Wheel alignment
- Cosmetic issues
The list goes on. A detailed report will help you tell the dealership what needs repairs, which will help you negotiate a better price or avoid future repair expenses.
Choose the Right Insurance
Comparing insurance policies should be your next step. This monthly payment will
recur for 6 to 12 months at a time, and you can't get out of it until the end of that period. Always ensure you're receiving the right coverage for your needs and paying a reasonable rate.
Find the Best Car Loans
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is financing. This is more important than ever with inflation, record-high car prices, and rising interest rates. Finding the right deal for your purchase is essential for your loan.
Finding a lower interest rate loan is essential, but you should also look at the terms. If an automobile loan has policies that may apply to you, you may not have to worry too much about the interest rate. For example, late fees, early completion fees,
and others could cost you more than an extra 0.25% on interest.
Look into each vehicle loan and weigh your options before buying a car. It could save
you a lot of money. When interest rates finally decline, feel free to refinance your loan for a better rate!
Start Shopping for Cars
Buying a new car is an exciting time, but it's important not to get taken for a ride by car buying services or car loans. Do your diligence, find the right car for your needs, and don't leave any questions unanswered.
Check our Auto Buying Services to save time and money, and eliminate dealer hassles, pressure, and confusion. Stay up to date with our latest financial tips,
and don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or help with your financing needs!