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Buying a Car? Here Are 10 Things to Add to Your Car Checklist

Did you know that you can negotiate the interest rate when buying a car? If you want to learn more about what to look for when buying a car, we can help.

In this guide, we’ll go over a car checklist to use.

Want to learn more? Keep reading.

1. What’s Your Budget?

Before you go out shopping for a car, you’ll want to decide how much you can afford. If you don’t have savings set up for a car, you’ll need to figure out a down payment.

What’s your budget for a car payment? Can you trade in your current vehicle?

Aim to spend 10 percent of your income on car-related expenses. If you make around 3000 a month, try to set aside around 300 for car expenses.

Use this as a guideline. That amount can help cover insurance and maintenance.

2. Try to Get a Pre-Approval for Financing

You can check with a lender like a credit union or bank ahead of time to get a target price. Shop around and try to get pre-approved for the lowest loan rate.

Borrowers with excellent credit scores will get an incredible rate. If you want a better rate, focus on improving your credit score. 

3. What Car Would Suit Your Needs Best?

Next, you’ll want to think about what vehicles could meet your budget and your needs.

Do you have a growing family? You might need to look into getting a minivan. Are you a single person looking to get a more fuel-efficient vehicle?

Look online to learn about different models that offer other perks. You can learn how much the price is for a used vehicle and the fuel economy rating.

4. Where Will You Buy the Vehicle?

If you don’t have savings for a new vehicle or don’t have a big budget, look at getting a used car.

You can still get a decent model at a lower price scale range. Some people will try and buy a vehicle from someone they know.

Search online by typing in a “used car dealership near me.”

5. Get a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle

An off-lease vehicle or late-model car is in top shape. These vehicles tend to get sold as certified pre-owned vehicles.

A certified pre-owned vehicle is a little pricier compared to non-certified models. The vehicle would have passed a mechanical inspection. T

Also, the vehicle will have been repaired. Most cars have a certain level of warranty coverage.

6. Learn About the Dealership

Not every dealership will be the same. Some dealerships don’t offer the same service as others, and others might have more inventory.

Check out the dealer’s inventory before you show up to browse. You can call ahead first and ask if a specific model is available.

7. Talk to the Seller

Once you have a few car listings that you’ve added to your list, call the dealer. Make sure the model you’re looking for is still in stock.

You’ll also want to find out the asking price before you go to the dealership.

Are you buying from a private party? Make sure you plan to meet at a well-lit public location like a grocery parking lot.

Don’t go to unfamiliar territory to look at a car. You don’t know the person you’re meeting well, so you don’t want to get in an unsafe situation.

8. Go on a Test Drive

Don’t buy a used vehicle without examining it well and going on a test drive. The test drive will help you determine if the car meets your expectations and needs. Does the vehicle operate well?

During your test drive, drive the vehicle on different roads and at various speeds. Check the cornering, acceleration, and braking.

Try out all the different features inside the vehicle. This way, you can make sure everything is in working order.

9. Bring the Vehicle to a Mechanic

If you’re considering a used car, you want to make sure you bring it to a mechanic. The mechanic will look over the vehicle to make sure it’s in proper working order.

A mechanic will have the expertise to look for things you wouldn’t consider or search for on a vehicle.

10. Don’t Forget to Negotiate

Once you research models, determine a budget and find a vehicle, you’ll want to negotiate.

If you’re buying a used car, the negotiation process will be different from negotiating for a new vehicle. A used car might have a couple of hundreds of dollars room the seller is willing to shift.

A lot of dealers will tell you upfront they have a no-haggle price. Most online sellers price their vehicles to sell fast.

If there’s a problem with the used car, but you decide it’s not a deal-breaker, bring this up during the negotiation.

You might be able to move the price down a bit. If another seller offers a more competitive price for the same model, mention this to your current seller.

Now You Have a Car Checklist

We hope this guide on what to look for when buying a car was helpful. Use this car checklist to find the perfect model for you and your family.

Make sure you create a budget, determine what you’re looking for, and go on a test drive. Make sure a mechanic looks over the vehicle.

Was this guide helpful? Check out our other resources on education, food, and more.

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