Navigating the car buying process is… well, kind of a process. The average shopper spends over three months on the market and clocks almost 14 hours actively researching and shopping for their new ride. And when you’re a woman, the process can take on another level of complications.
1. Figure out what you want
First thing’s first: start by getting an idea of what you’re looking for. Make a list of features you’re interested in, starting with whether you’re looking for a car, truck, SUV, or other body style altogether. From there, consider the basics: manual or automatic? Two- or four-wheel drive? What year, mileage total, and gas mileage ranges would you prefer to stay within? Be sure to take your lifestyle into consideration as well. Think about your current driving patterns, including how often and where you typically travel, as well as how much space you’ll need for passengers or cargo.
2. Factor in the financing
A car is often one of the largest purchases a person makes, which means careful financial planning is a must. Asking yourself questions such as, ‘What kind of monthly payments are realistic for me?,’ ‘How much can I afford for a down payment?,’ and ‘Are my insurance rates going to increase?’ will provide helpful parameters and ensure you can act fast when you find a car you like.
3. Research… then research some more!
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase ‘knowledge is power’ thousands of times and — surprise! — it holds true in this case as well. While it can be super tempting to look at vehicles in-person right away, buyers should conduct the lion’s share of research before setting foot in a dealership to avoid feeling rushed or pressured into a purchase.
Luckily, it has never been easier to research a potential automotive purchase. Today, everything from comparing options to purchasing a new ride can be done digitally. YouTube is packed with videos of virtual test drives that allow you to get behind the wheel of almost any model you can think of.
4. Find the right dealer
Now that you’ve done all the research on the actual automobile you’re considering, it’s time to apply the same amount of thought to who will sell you your car. “Walk around that dealership — it’s a gut feeling — see if you like it. “You are spending your hard-earned money; compare it to if you’re going to have surgery done. You might go to one doctor and then get another doctor’s opinion. It’s really no different. It’s such a large purchase and you have every right to work with who you want and go to the dealership that you like.”
5. Pack your bags
Once you’re all researched and ready to go, pack your bag with some extra supplies to make the process even easier. When customers bring a notebook, it conveyed that they had done their research and were well-prepared. Along with a notebook, bring a folder with files such as vehicle information, financial documents, and the title to your current car if you are considering a trade-in.
6. Know how to negotiate
While it’s not always clear what you can and can’t negotiate in life, automobiles fall strictly into the ‘negotiable’ category. If the thought of negotiating in person doesn’t sound super appealing, you’re in luck: begin negotiations online where the list price is typically lower to attract buyers. Start by submitting a request to the dealer’s internet department, getting their price back in writing, and repeating the process. The quickest way to get a dealer to roll down is to show them a competitive purchase order from another dealer.
7. Never ever settle
It should be an invigorating and rewarding experience. If anything takes away from your confidence and happiness walking into the dealership, walk right out.