Things to Consider When Buying a Car

If you’re thinking of buying a new car, now may be the perfect time.  The lots are brimming with the latest models, and dealers are offering attractive incentives to clear out their inventory.  With so many people trading in their old rides for new models, it’s also a good time to purchase a used vehicle. Before you head out for an afternoon of tire kicking, here are some tips to help you avoid some common mistakes, whether you’re considering buying used or new.

The best place to start is by figuring out exactly how much car you can afford.  Figure out how much of a down payment and monthly payments you can afford and stick to it.  Don’t forget to include insurance, taxes and monthly fuel and maintenance costs in your calculations. has two excellent budget tools to determine how much car you can afford for your monthly budget. Click here to check it out. These two tools also make it really easy to find cars that are in your price range.

Do you have a car or truck that you’ll need to sell or trade in? If so, check out the NADAGuides to find out how much your car is worth, either to an individual buyer, or as a trade in to a dealership. You want to make sure you can get the maximum value for your old ride, and determine whether it’s worth it, or not, to sell to an individual or just take the ease of doing a trade with the dealer.

Be sure the model you’re considering buying has a clean safety report. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Center for Auto Safety databases provide information about recalls, safety issues and service bulletins on virtually all models.  You can go to their site and research here.

Once you find a specific car or truck you’re interested in purchasing, research its history using the vehicle’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to find out if it has been damaged in an accident or flooding, or had its odometer rolled back. If you’re shopping here at, you can access a vehicle history report through InstaVIN from any individual vehicle detail page. Look for the InstaVIN link on the detail page for the vehicle you are interested in.

You should also check the title history. Your state’s motor vehicle department can provide you with valuable information that can help you avoid major problems down the road. And lastly, before you go in for a test drive, you should check out any professional reviews you can find for the make and model you are evaluating.  You can find a great source of reviews here.

If buying from a dealer, be sure you understand the warranty. Some vehicles are sold “As Is”, with no warranty at all, while others come with limited warranties.  Dealers often offer extended warranties that may or may not be worth the money.  Make sure you understand exactly what is covered by any warranty, and how long the warranty is valid.  Most warranties are expressed in terms of so many months OR so many miles – whichever comes first.  Be sure to get the warranty in writing.  Certified pre-owned vehicles typically offer the best warranties.

Whether buying from a dealer or an individual, you should have a pre-purchase inspection performed by a mechanic you trust.  Prices for these types of inspections can vary, but they are well worth the investment.

Finally, don’t rush into anything.  Buying a vehicle can be a stressful, but also exciting event; especially for first time buyers.  Give yourself plenty of time to shop around, and try not to let your emotions get the best of you.

And, finally, you’re in the right place. Not only can you search through millions of listings of new and used cars for sale, you can also find 4 or 5 cars you can load into’s Compare tool and look compare their features and options head to head.  Check it out here!

Happy shopping!

Posted in In the News, On the Road, Your Next Car

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