Happy African-American couple sitting in new car holding keys
Happy African-American couple sitting in new car holding keys

how do I buy a new car?

From setting a budget to test driving, here are 8 important steps

Car prices are higher than normal right now, but if you need to replace your current car, here's how to make the most of your budget. Don't let high prices or a confusing buying process keep you off the road. 

Buying a car may seem overwhelming and a bit complicated to those who have never had the experience before, but here are eight steps to help simplify and ease the process.

Set your budget

As you would before making any large purchase, you need to know your budget in order to be financially prepared for this decision. There are a variety of calculators online in which you can use to find the monthly payment and price range that is right for you.

When buying a car, dealerships offer a variety of options when it comes to financing your new vehicle. You can pay cash out of pocket, take out a loan from a bank or credit union, or sign a lease agreement for a fixed period of temporary ownership which will usually last around three years.

When buying a car, there are a variety of options when it comes to financing your new vehicle.

Prequalifying for a car loan

Before shopping for the right car, make sure your finances are in order to find the right loan and car for your budget. Paying out of pocket may seem like the easiest option, although it is unrealistic for many. You never want to use all of your savings simply for the ease of paying it off right away. Prequalification on a loan can give you a better idea of what your approval odds and your estimated loan terms would be once you submit the final loan application.

In addition to the actual price of the car, there are also a handful of fees you must pay before you are able to drive off of the lot in your new car, such as sales tax, insurance, and registration.

Find the right car

Now, you must choose the right car. Find a dealership with good ratings close by and take some time to browse their selection online. Take into consideration the type of vehicle you would prefer, whether it be a car, SUV, or truck, and also keep in mind specific features important to you, such as gas mileage and safety features.

Check reliability and ownership costs

J.D. Power is a data analytics and consumer intelligence company that does frequent studies on vehicle makes and models and later rates them for quality and reliability. It is important to be informed on not only your future cost of ownership, but also the potential resale value of your vehicle later.

Schedule a test drive

When the time comes, it is recommended to call the dealership in advance and make an appointment with a salesperson. You can specify your options prior to the appointment so that the salesperson can have the vehicle prepped and ready for you to test drive upon arrival. Make sure to test drive the vehicle in a variety of terrains so that you can get a feel for the handling of your car-- after all, you are going to be driving it for the long haul.

Find the right price

Love the car you test drove? Do not get too ahead of yourself! Make sure to do some more research and fact check prices others in your area are paying for your car of choice. You can find information online on guides like Kelley Blue Book.

Get dealer quotes

Next, check for rebates and incentives available and request a quote from the dealer. You can do so via email or in person, whichever is less stressful for you. Be wary of any monthly payments or other negotiation tactics that dealers often use to customers’ disadvantage.

Seal the deal

Double-check the fees and trade-in value of the car before sealing the deal. If you end up satisfied, you are now a new car owner. Always remember though, if at first, you do not succeed, try again. No matter where you are in the car buying process, we can help! We want you to walk onto the car dealership lot with confidence. At First Financial Bank, you can apply for preapproval today.

The information on this page is accurate as of January 2021 and is subject to change. First Financial Bank is not affiliated with any third-parties or third-party websites mentioned above. Any reference to any person, organization, activity, product, and/or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement. By clicking on a third-party link, you acknowledge you are leaving bankatfirst.com. First Financial Bank is not responsible for the content or security of any linked web page. Member FDIC / Equal Housing Lender.

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