Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

Buying a new car is a surefire way to upgrade your life experience, but most people dread the process. We have good news. Buying or leasing a car can be quick, easy, and even enjoyable, but only if you avail yourself of the right resources and information in order to prepare for the purchase.

The way we buy cars is evolving. According to statistics published by Auto Trader, car buyers spent 12.5 hours shopping online in 2015, up from 11.2 hours in 2013. Buyers visit more sites while doing research than they did in years past, too, and most of their time—a whopping 45 percent—is spent on third-party sites such as Daily News Autos.

Clearly, the internet is the top resource for car buyers by a huge margin, with referrals, TV, and magazines lagging far behind. Buyers use the internet mainly to compare vehicles, research pricing and specifications, and get new car buying advice.

These user patterns make it clear the internet is a valuable ally when buying a car. And the fact that you’re including the Daily News in your effort to find a vehicle ideally suited for your needs means you’re off to a well-informed start.

Here are the eight steps you must take to simplify the process of buying a car, complete with links to articles that offer deeper dives on each subject.

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

If you lease a car, you’ll be expected to return it in the same condition in which it was received or pay penalties. If you buy your car, you won’t have to worry about paying a cost for wear and tear.

(Mazda)

1. Decide whether you want to buy new or used.When buying a car, you have the choice of purchasing a new car or a used model.

A used car is always a better bet financially. New cars depreciate rapidly in the first year of ownership, and on average, the value of your new vehicle will plummet by 19 percent after just 12 months.

If used-car reliability is a concern, you might want to look into Certified Pre-Owned programs. Used cars that are part of manufacturer Certified Pre-Owned programs have been rigorously inspected, and only the most well-maintained and dependable models make the cut. These programs also offer warranty protection you don’t normally get when shopping used.

Still, there are several benefits to purchasing a new car. A new car has new parts and a manufacturer warranty, which means you won’t have to spend money on repairs during the first few years of ownership.

Manufacturers are under a lot of pressure from the government to boost fuel economy in their vehicles, and this has translated into models that get more fuel-efficient with each new generation or mid-cycle refresh. As a result, you’re likely to get the best fuel economy from a new car.

New cars also offer the latest safety technology and infotainment features. If you’re looking to connect your car to your phone with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a new model will best serve you. And if you’re looking to step up your car’s safety with active driver assist technology such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring systems, you’ll find these features aren’t widely offered in vehicles that are more than a couple of years old.

Here are some articles designed to help you make a decision between buying new and buying used:

  • THE 8 BEST REASONS TO BUY A NEW CAR
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED CARS
  • 6 SMART REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BUY A USED CAR

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

If you pick a car whose fuel economy isn’t compatible with your budget, you’ll regret it every time you make a trip to the gas station.

(Pexels)

2. Determine whether you want to buy or lease. Your next decision has to do with whether you want to buy or lease.

Leasing comes with certain pros and cons. Leasing is less expensive than purchasing a car, but it comes with mileage limits and restrictions that require you to properly care for and maintain the vehicle while prohibiting you from customizing the car.

If you choose to purchase, the car is yours, and you can treat it any way you want, modify it to your heart’s content, and put as many miles on it as you need to without incurring penalties.

These resources will help you decide between leasing and buying:

  • PROS AND CONS OF LEASING: WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOUR CAR BUYING BUDGET?
  • HOW TO LEASE A CAR IN 7 SIMPLE STEPS

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

You’ll likely get the best rates by securing financing from a third-party lender before visiting a dealership, especially if you have less-than-perfect credit.

(Pexels)

3. Select a car.A car needs to be practical. It must fit your lifestyle. If you have a family, for example, your vehicle needs to have enough seating and cargo capacity to meet their needs.

Fuel economy is a key concern for many. The more miles you drive each year, the more money you will save by choosing a fuel-efficient model. You’ll also need to consider car insurance. Certain models are less expensive to insure than others, and these costs should factor into your car-buying decision.

Still, while practicality is important, picking a car is about more than just how many bodies it will hold and how much gas it uses. It’s about choosing a vehicle that provides you with the features and amenities that will make your life more pleasant.

Furthermore, a car whose exterior styling appeals to you will give you a sense of pride every time you see it sitting in a parking lot, and a car with engaging ride and handling characteristics will make you eager to get behind the wheel each morning.

In the end, picking a car involves striking a balance between guidance offered by your head and your heart.

These articles will help you make a sound choice:

  • TOP 10 REASONS WHY PEOPLE BUY SPECIFIC CARS
  • 8 IMPORTANT DECISIONS TO MAKE BEFORE BUYING A NEW CAR
  • HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON CAR INSURANCE IN 8 EASY STEPS

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

Contact dealers via email, listing the model or models you’re interested in. They will eagerly get back to you with price quotes.

(Startup Stock Photo)

4. Arrange financing. A new car can be an expensive investment, and if you’ve decided to purchase instead of lease, you’ll probably need to obtain financing.

While many dealerships offer financing solutions, you’ll typically get the best rates if you obtain financing from a third-party lender before setting foot in the dealership. Dealers sometimes manipulate interest rates during price negotiations, and setting up your financing before the negotiation process on your new car begins ensures you’ll get an interest rate you’ll be happy with for years.

These articles share insight on financing:

  • HOW TO FINANCE A CAR IN 6 EASY STEPS
  • 8 IMPORTANT DECISIONS TO MAKE BEFORE BUYING A NEW CAR

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

When the time comes to buy a new car, you must do something with your old car. Your choices are to trade-in, sell yourself, or donate.

(Christian Wardlaw)

5.Pick a car dealership. There are several factors involved in picking a car dealership. Price and service are important, and you’ll also want to choose a dealer with the inventory on hand to meet your needs.

We recommend doing your price research via each dealership’s internet department. Every visit to a dealership comes with the risk of having to sit through a sales pitch, and contacting dealerships online instead of in person will help you avoid that.

Send emails listing the model or models you’re interested in, along with the options you’d like to add. After that, you simply need to wait for the price quotes to come flooding in.

This article will help you choose a dealership:

  • HOW TO CHOOSE A CAR DEALERSHIP

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

Taking test-drives of the cars you’re considering is an important step in the research and purchase process.

(Christian Wardlaw)

6. Create a plan for disposing of your current car.You have three choices when it comes to getting rid of your current car: You can sell it to a private party, you can trade it in to the dealer, or you can donate it to charity.

If your main goal is to get as much money for your car as possible, selling it to a private party is your best bet. However, keep in mind it can be tedious and time-consuming to orchestrate this type of sale.

While you’ll get less money for your car by trading it in to the dealer, going this route offers the benefits of speed and convenience.

Donating your car to charity gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped a cause you believe in. Donating is simple and straightforward, but if you choose to claim the donation on your tax returns, be aware you will have to jump though a few hoops.

The following article sheds more light on this topic:

  • HOW TO DECIDE WHETHER TO TRADE IN, SELL, OR DONATE YOUR OLD CAR

Looking for our best advice about buying a car? This guide explains exactly how to buy a car you will love

Car buying requires research and preparation, but the payoff is driving home with a vehicle perfectly suited for your needs. 

(Mazda)

7. Test drive your car and negotiate. Once you’ve narrowed your list of candidates for a new car, stop by the dealership for a test drive.

A test drive is one of the final steps in selecting a car that matches your needs. You’ll want to be comfortable behind the wheel when driving your new car, and a test drive allows you to evaluate traits such as seat comfort, handling, and ride quality.

After you’ve found a car you’re happy with, you can choose to negotiate with the dealer to get the best price. Negotiation opens the door for more than just price savings. You can also negotiate to secure perks and bonuses that wouldn’t have been otherwise offered to you.

To negotiate effectively, you’ll need to arm yourself with key insight. This article will serve as a resource:

  • MAXIMIZE YOUR SAVINGS AND LEARN HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH CAR DEALERS

8. Sign on the dotted line, and drive away happy.Once you’ve struck a deal you’re happy with, you’re ready to sign the necessary paperwork. Be careful to review the paperwork to make sure it reflects all the points agreed upon during your negotiation. If everything looks good, put your John Hancock on the dotted line.

When you take delivery of the car, give it a thorough once-over to make sure there are no dents or dings. If the car is in satisfactory shape, your work is done.

Congratulate yourself on having made a smart car-buying decision. Get ready to reap all the benefits that come with having purchased a vehicle ideally suited for your needs.

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