6 things to help you buy a car that will suit your lifestyle

Knowledge is the best tool for finding the right new car. Here’s how to prepare for the dealership, so you drive away with the car you need.

6 things to help you buy a car that will suit your lifestyle

1. Budget

The first step in buying a car is setting a budget. Carefully consider your income and costs to see how much you can spend, factoring in payments, maintenance, gas, insurance and taxes. Once you settle on a number, you can start looking for cars you can afford.

2. The right vehicle

Choosing the right vehicle depends on your lifestyle and needs. Consider the number of people and kinds of cargo the vehicle will carry, plus how much you’re willing to spend on fuel. Size matters. Smaller cars are harder to handle in snowy conditions while large trucks and SUVs can be difficult to maneuver in many downtown cores.

3. The right model

Having knowledge of important details for specific models shows salespeople you’re serious. Read car reviews and descriptions of similar vehicles from various manufacturers, paying careful attention to complaints about longevity and maintenance. With a basic understanding of the similarities and differences, you can find which model offers the best value within your budget.

4. Features

Extra features can make driving safer and more enjoyable. For a comfortable ride, look for air conditioning, sunroof or a DVD system for the kids in the back. Navigation systems, automatic transitions and cruise control make driving easier and less stressful. For versatility on the road, look for tow hitches and four-wheel drive. Remember, many features (like leather seats) are almost purely aesthetic, so you can save money by focusing on features that actually help with the driving.

5. Check for the little details

When you go to the dealership, take your time discussing details, big and small. Big details include safety ratings and performance, but smaller points like spare tires, child seat anchors and the comfort of that middle back seat are also important. Make sure you check what kind of fuel and tires the car needs so you won’t have any surprises down the road.

6. The negotiation

The negotiation is arguably the most difficult step in buying new cars. In addition to car prices, be sure to compare cars’ interest rates before you arrive as some auto dealers make extra money by tacking on extra percentage points, even if you qualify for a lower interest rate. Look up what the dealer paid in a new car pricing guide before negotiation for extra bargaining power. Remember to stay calm and that it’s okay to walk away.

Buying a new car can be intimidating and expensive, but as long as you set a budget and do your research, you'll be able to find the car that works best for you.

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