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So You're Thinking of Buying a New Car...

Tips on shopping for a new vehicle

I get asked about new car purchases all the time. The biggest question is: Should I get a new car or hang onto the old one?

First thing I do is give my disclaimer: It depends on your situation. Can you afford a new car? If not, then what is it going to cost to get the old one in good shape again? Look at the service history on your old car. Maybe you have had several large bills recently. Say tires and brakes were done, or maybe a transmission was replaced.

Perhaps then it is in your best interest to keep the old car. Repair bills may seem big, but remember, car payments nowadays can be $400 to $700 dollars a month, and last five to six years. That can pay for a lot of vehicle repairs.

Ok, So You Decided to Go Car Shopping. 

Now what? First look for vehicles that interest you. Be it appearance, functionality or both. Next, go online and check for any forums or reviews for that vehicle.

Two words of caution: First off, when reading reviews, remember there are probably 10 percent of people writing complaints that may be very difficult to please or bought the vehicle with very high expectations. Secondly, new car reviews written in magazines don’t necessarily tell how well a vehicle will do long-term.

I personally tell people to be careful when buying a brand new model that has no track record. These vehicles are more prone to having recalls or other issues during the first model year.

Be careful here guys, because once you get certain options (like heated seats), your wife will never let you get another vehicle without them. 

Next, look closely at your situation. What do you really need? Is fuel economy a big concern, or do you need to be able to tow your camper? Do you want a two-door coupe when you really need a four-door because of the kids? And what options do you really need.

I know personally, cruise control is a must-have for me. It’s a lot cheaper than speeding tickets! Be careful here guys, because once you get certain options (like heated seats), your wife will never let you get another vehicle without them.

Remember the more options you have, the greater chance the chance of having to repair them in the future. Even tires can be very expensive. A lot of new vehicles have the bigger 18- to 20-inch wheels which look great, but when it comes time to replace them, it can be very expensive.

Just be sure to do your homework which will make the whole process a lot easier and manageable.

Once you narrow your search down, talk to your mechanic. Ask him what he thinks as far as reliability and repair costs. If you are thinking of trading the old car in, check its blue book value. The used car market is very hot right now. There is a shortage of vehicles, and with online classifieds like Craigslist, you can sell your vehicle quickly and inexpensively. This will give you more leverage when working a deal on your new car.

Lastly be careful of extended warranty policies that sales people try to sell you. Some vehicles have factory warranties that can last up to five years or 100,000 miles. So an extended warranty may not be needed at this time. Down the road when you have more miles on the vehicle, then you may want to consider a policy.

Also, research the company and policy they are trying to sell. Some are very good and some are very poor. Some policies make you go to the dealer for all repairs and others let you chose where to have your vehicle fixed. Just be sure to do your homework which will make the whole process a lot easier and manageable.

Good luck shopping.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Greg June 08, 2012 at 02:08 AM
A third option may be buying a slightly used vehicle. I have bought some with 10,000 to 30,000 miles for half of the cost of new or less.
James Gottemoller June 09, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Finance option to add to the program. See your trusted banker at your branch. Many banks offer a pre-approval. This lets get your finances approved in advance so that you will know how much you can spend, what your rate is, and limit the inquiries to your credit report. The pre-approval will come with stipulations on how old the car can be, what are the miles,etc... This can put you in a bargaining position at the dealership. They like to do financing too.

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