10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Car-Buying Experience

Buying a car is a big investment, and it's important to make sure you get the best deal possible. To do this, you need to be prepared and know what to look for. Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your car-buying experience. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan Before Setting Foot on a Dealership Lot. Before you start shopping for a car, it's important to get pre-approved for a loan.

This will give you an idea of how much you can afford and will help you negotiate a better deal at the dealership. It's also important to keep it simple at the dealership. Don't buy any add-ons in the heat of the moment, as they can add up quickly and end up costing you more in the long run. A better way to do this, according to financial expert Reed Moles, is a five-year loan for a new car, and with a used car, you should finance it for only three years, that's 36 months. One reason that makes sense, he says, is that if your used car breaks down and it's not worth fixing, let's say the transmission goes completely, you're more likely to have repaid the loan by that time. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 20 percent of your monthly household income on a new car.

This figure should include your monthly car loan payments and all other expenses, such as fuel, car insurance, maintenance, repairs, and registration fees. Just for the monthly payment, Edmunds suggests you shouldn't aim for more than 15 percent of your income. After you've established your budget and determined the type of property that's right for your driving habits, start researching the vehicles that have caught your eye. First, visit car manufacturers' websites and independent automotive information sites to evaluate features that are important to you. Consider MSRPs (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices) and Invoice Prices.

Next, check the local inventory listings to see what's available in your area. Many car manufacturers offer discounts to students, members of the military, and even members of certain credit unions. These discounts can be cumulated and combined with any model cash back, which must be deducted after negotiating the price. Check the automaker's website for these incentives before entering. When it's time to sit down and talk about pricing, be prepared with the research you've done. Check if other dealers offer better deals for your vehicle and look for a price match with your seller.

If you want to change your current car, save that conversation for after negotiating the sale price of your new car. Having those conversations separately will help you get a better deal on your current car, and you'll do even better if you've researched the value of your current car online. According to Autotrader, the best times to buy a car are at the end of the month, during the holiday weekend sales, and at the end of each quarter. The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) recommends going later during the day and during the week to get an even better deal. Before entering the showroom, it's helpful to have a good understanding of the price consumers pay for the vehicle they would like to buy. As Moles and many other buyers have learned, buying a new vehicle today requires ingenuity, patience and flexibility. So he and Van Alst say don't be afraid to leave or buy the car at a good price without the exchange if you feel that the dealer is lowering the price of your old car. Start your research with these 10 tips to help you find an affordable car that also fits your lifestyle.

Many car buyers prefer to have financing from a bank or credit union before arriving at the dealership. When you're ready, follow these seven steps to make the most of the car-buying experience and get the vehicle of your dreams at a price that won't ruin you. It may seem like simple advice for buying a new car, but waiting for the right time to buy it can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the final sale price. So at the dealership, Reed and Van Alst say the first step is to start with the price of the vehicle you're buying. Leasing a car and going into debt to buy one are bad ideas, so what you can afford is based on the amount of cash you can pay upfront. Buying a car is an important investment; make sure you do your research before heading out to buy one. Get pre-approved for a loan before setting foot on a dealership lot so that you know how much money you can spend on a new vehicle.

Research different models online so that you know what features are important to you before entering negotiations with dealerships. Look out for discounts offered by manufacturers or credit unions as well as cash back offers when negotiating prices. Finally, wait until late in month or quarter when dealerships are more likely to offer discounts or special deals on cars. With these 10 tips in mind, you'll be able to make an informed decision when buying a new car.