Less-Known Tips to Make Car Buying a Breeze

If you're in the market to buy a new or 'nearly new' car, the experts at NADAguides offer the following lesser-known tips to help make your car buying experience easier.

1. Determine your budget.

First and foremost, it's important to determine what you can afford to spend, or what you're willing to spend on that new ride. When considering this figure, know that in addition to a vehicle's actual retail price, there are many other costs to consider when determining your overall budget. Don't forget about tax, title, registration and related fees associated with buying a car, as well as any aftermarket add-ons that will impact its purchase price.

Don't forget about additional monthly expenses for insurance, gas and maintenance and yearly expenses like vehicle registration. If you're financing, your credit history will impact the type of loan you qualify for and ultimately, your interest rate, which affects how much your monthly payment will be. Finally, manufacturer and dealer-oriented incentives and rebates can impact a vehicle's overall purchase price, so be sure to take these offers into your budget consideration.

NADAguides.com offers online tools to help you determine your budget, including detailed pricing reports, a monthly payment calculator, incentives and rebates information, and free finance, insurance and warranty quotes.

2. Find what you need. Buy what you want.

It might sound easy enough, but finding your perfect car can be difficult.

The best place to start is to consider how you'll use it. Are you driving long miles to-and-from work or school and need a reliable and economical vehicle? Do you need a truck or SUV with hefty hauling or towing capacities? Are you looking for a work vehicle with plenty of cargo space? Are you an outdoorsman who needs a vehicle with off-road capabilities? When it comes to finding your perfect ride, determining how you'll use it is a great place to start.

Next up, be sure to buy what you want if it makes good financial sense. "If you have your heart set on a particular make and model and you can swing it financially, buy it," said Don Christy, Jr., President and CEO, NADAguides.com. "There's nothing more frustrating than owning a vehicle for three, four or five years if you're not completely satisfied with it."

NADAguides.com provides car buyers with detailed vehicle specification information, including EPA estimates, maximum payload and towing capacity, passenger and cargo capacity, standard equipment information, drive train and engine specifications and more.

3. Dare to compare.

Comparison shopping is one of the most essential parts of car buying today. With online comparison tools like the one offered at NADAguides.com, shoppers can compare new cars against other new cars, new cars against used cars, or used cars against used cars. Side-by-side, in real time, buyers can evaluate which vehicles get better gas mileage, which cars offer more horsepower, which vehicles have larger passenger or towing capacities or which cars come equipped with manual or automatic transmissions. Additionally, buyers can compare things like standard equipment, luxury amenities, tire and wheel information, head and leg room and more. "Online comparison tools are like virtual car lots," said Christy. "The Internet lets you 'lift the hood' and 'look inside' to see which cars stack up better than others."

In addition to side-by-side comparisons, NADAguides.com offers full-color interior and exterior photos and 360-degree views, as well as Expert and Owner Ratings for all types of new and used vehicles, to help buyers with their car buying research.

4. Locate your ride.

The Internet makes it possible for buyers to search for, locate, submit a quote request and receive a call from a local dealer, from the comfort of their home or office. With dealer inventory search tools found online, buyers can search new and used cars offered by dealers or private party sellers, they can submit an online quote request to a dealer or contact a private party seller by email or phone, and they can receive price quotes by email or phone for the vehicle they're interested in buying.

NADAguides.com allows buyers the opportunity to search new and used car listings from dealers and private party sellers in virtually every market in the U.S., including the opportunity to submit a quote request and receive a price quote for the vehicle they're interested in buying.

5. A 'hands-on' approach seals the deal.

No amount of online research can replace the experience of an actual, physical test drive, so be sure to take that new or used car for a spin. You can test drive new or pre-owned 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.

If you're buying a used car that isn't accompanied by a warranty, solicit the help of a certified, reputable mechanic to inspect the used vehicle prior to purchase. It's always a great idea to get the vehicle inspected, especially if you're considering the purchase of an older vehicle with higher mileage or one that hasn't been routinely maintained or serviced.

Finally, research whether the used car you're buying is covered under an existing warranty. In certain situations, the car may be covered under a manufacturer's certification program. Other times, it may be covered by an independent extended warranty of some kind. If you're unsure whether a guarantee exists for the vehicle you wish to buy -- or whether the warranty can be transferred to you, the buyer -- make a conscious effort to ask the seller ahead of time or contact the participating warranty company to find out.