Step 0: Before you start
A lender's guarantee of the loan interest rate for a set period of time. This time period is usually that between loan application approval and loan closing. This lock-in protects the buying against rate increases during that time.
Step 1: Do your Homework
Before you set foot in any new car dealership, do your homework. Determine the type of vehicle that best fits your needs, your wants and your lifestyle. NADAguides.com offers a comprehensive New Car Information Center to help you choose your ideal ride, including a side-by-side comparison tool to let you compare up to four different vehicles simultaneously -- a convenient alternative to visiting a variety of different manufacturer's websites. Additionally, you can research safety information, read expert reviews, and build and price vehicles by choosing the make, model, colors and options that interest you most.
The NADAguides.com New Car Information Center allows you to research virtually every aspect of every new vehicle available on the market.
Check other sources online.
Step 2: Check your Wallet
Next up -- determine your budget and stick to it. If you're financing a car, find out exactly how much you can afford to spend on a monthly basis. Again, NADAguides.com offers a wealth of vehicle pricing resources to help you do the math as well as a Credit Check service to determine what type of credit you have and what type of loan you could qualify for. Don't forget to factor in any down payments or trade-in allowance (if you have a used car you're trading towards the purchase of a new car, be sure to check the trade-in price) and be sure to research any Current Offers available for the car you want to buy, if applicable.
Current Offers are manufacturer-to-consumer incentives and rebates (and in many cases dealers also offer their own incentives) that ultimately reduce the car's overall purchase price. Also, be sure to determine the price of the exact features and options you want ahead of time since many options and add-ons will increase the amount of money you'll spend.
Step 3: Get a Quote
Now it's time to get a price quote from a local dealer. The most convenient way to obtain a quote is to submit a new car purchase request online at NADAguides.com. This request is then routed to a local dealer in your area who can provide you with a quick and easy price quote over the phone or via email, depending on your preference. Be sure to ask the dealer if the vehicle you're interested in buying is available at the dealership ahead of time. If the dealership doesn't have the car in inventory, they might be able to locate the car for you. Then again, they might not. You just never know.
Step 4: Take a Test Drive
No amount of online research can replace the experience of an actual, physical test drive, so be sure to take that new car for a spin. You can test drive new vehicles at a local car dealership, you could ask a family member or friend who owns a similar vehicle to take their car for a ride, or you could rent a similar car with similar options for a day or two and spend some quality time examining and driving it before you make your final decision. A test drive is extremely important, so take the time and do it right.
Step 5: Get the Best Price
If you get a reasonable price quote for your car (with tax, license and other applicable fees), one with an affordable monthly payment and one that includes incentives and rebates that make the deal even sweeter, it's time to sign on the dotted line. If you think there's some wiggle room between what the dealer is asking and what you're willing to pay, however, don't be afraid to negotiate. Depending on the vehicle, a dealer may be willing to negotiate a lower final sales price. Next, be sure to discuss financing if needed. Consider securing a loan at the dealership or research other financing options, such as programs offered by banks, credit unions or other independent lenders.
Finally, if you're trading in a used car for credit towards the purchase of your new car, be sure to research its value at NADAguides.com prior to the negotiation process. Obviously, any credit for your trade-in coupled with any down payment you make will ultimately reduce the car's overall purchase price.