How to Save Money on a New Car Purchase

Recent new car sales numbers have shown the auto industry is in a rebound. Even with the recession still hitting many people hard it seems some people still need to buy new cars.  The rise in consumer confidence may have triggered this growth in new car sales, which is good sign for the economy.

It is important to remember that when purchasing a car one’s own financial situation remain the most important consideration. Even if you are able to buy a brand new vehicle, it is important to be frugal and strive to strike the best possible deal whatever your financial situation.

Saving Money on your New Car Purchase: 3 Tips for Success

With this in mind, what practical steps can you take to shop frugally and make an affordable new car purchase? Consider the following: –

  1. Choose your Buying Resources Wisely: If you are motivated by finding an affordable new car, then dealerships should not be your source of information. Instead, you should visit online resources such as Exchange and Mart or Consumer Reports to access a wide range of vehicle information across a range of brands.  In addition to this, it is also easy for you to offer your existing car as a trade-in on the new model, which can drastically reduce the cost on your new car purchase.  Keep in mind dealerships make my money on used cars than new cars so be careful how they structural the deals. 
  2. Pay Attention to Financing Plans and Agreements: When buying a brand new car, the majority of consumers are forced to pay with a fixed financing agreement which may not be their best financial choice. While this spreads the cost of the car over an agreed period of time, you need to be able to commit to making regular payments. Failure to do this will trigger late payment fees and headaches. You should find a good car loan rate through a local bank or credit union. In addition to this, be sure to read the financing terms in full and review these carefully to make sure there are no hidden catches that will come back to bite you later.
  3. Choose a Medium or Low Trim model for you New Car: There are numerous Trim levels on certain car models, which cater towards a range of budgets and expectations. While each Trim is going to offer different features, there won't be that much difference in the overall car. Buying a car with all the “bell and whistles” won't necessarily keep the value if the car or automaker doesn't have a good reliability rating and depreciation outlook. It's best to choose a lower Trim model and pay a little more fore certain features you want without going over you budget on a car that is not that different.

5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo Spider

Car buying is on a new upswing.  Reuters recently reported that overall car buying (new and used) has risen drastically in the past 4 years.  Car sales rose 13 percent to 1,188,865 cars and light trucks sold during the month of September at U.S. auto dealerships.  That was the best month since March 2008, just after the start of the recession and this shows promise for the auto industry.

The upswing is mainly due to rising consumer confidence, making people feel safer to open their wallets on car purchases.  However, many Americans are still feeling the tight with their money in this economy as it is still moving at a snail's pace.  That's why more people are considering used cars over new cars these days.  If you are one of these people here are “5 Tips for Buying a Used Car.”

Preparation is Key

Preparation is crucial in a used car buying search. Spending time researching different models and trims can help you get a better price and know what car fits your needs. The internet offers a wealth of information about used cars – learn about the different models, options, reliability, prices, etc.  The more you know the better, the better prepared you are to find the car you want and get a good deal.

Check Your Credit

If you're a used car buyer with potential credit issues who might find it difficult in getting approved for a loan, again turn to the internet to better educate yourself. Better yet, you should probably know your credit rating in advance, so the entire discussion about financing and credit isn't a surprise to you.

I recommend you look for a reputable credit union that will offer great financing for pre-owned and used vehicles at reasonable rates.  Credit unions offer much better financing than what you will find at a bank all with personalized service.  Credit unions actually offer the same loan rates on new cars as used cars, making them straightforward and easy to understand.  They can also help you improve your credit and some even offer classes on financial literary.

Do the Numbers

When seeking a used car, know what your budget is and where it will be a year from now. Don’t shop for a cool luxury convertible car if you’re living on a shoestring budget, try to find a reasonable and sensible small car that will be easy and not expensive to maintain and insure.

Most used car buyers try to manage a down payment of about 20 percent, while financing the rest. But don't let that get away from you either.  I don't recommending financing a car for more than four years (48 months), and it is a good idea to keep your monthly payment lower than 10 percent of your total income.

You can find great tools online to figure out what a reasonable monthly car payment is for you.  It's best to pay for the car as much upfront as you can but most will need to borrow a little money.

Get the Car Checked

You NEED to get any used car you are considering buying checked and inspected by a reputable independent mechanic BEFORE you buy it.  Unless you are a gearhead, like me, and know what to look for in used cars it's not a good idea to just take a dealership or individuals word on the history of a car.

Did you know that there is no law requiring body shops to report work they have done on vehicles they work on?  A friend's dad is master painter and bodyman and he can make any vehicle that has been in a serious accident look new again.  Meaning Carfax reports can be completely clean, but not tell the whole story about the car.

Eyes that know what to look for will be able to see if a car has been in an accident or if it needs any mechanical fixed to be road-worthy.  Having a used car checked out before you buy it is very important.

Watch for Trade Ins

Most used car dealers will ask if you're trading in a car for the new/used car you've got your eye on.  You want to be careful about talking with the dealership about this.  Trade-in talk shouldn't enter into the negotiation process in my opinion.  Smart used car buyers consider trade-in cars as a separate transaction, and as such don't mention a trade-in factor into the conversation until the end.  Also you will likely get more for your used car if you sold it online via Craigslist or other local ad listing service or website.  Did you know that dealerships typically make a killing on used car trade-ins and not much on selling new cars?  One of dealerships dirty little secrets!  To be sure you are getting a good deal utilize sites like ClearBook.com which assess the value of your used car for the approximate trade-in value.  You will find you typically won't get a good deal.

So don't fret if you are a first-time used car buyer or don't have the best credit rating in the world.  There are plenty of great tools to help you and you should always be looking for opportunities to buy if you are in the market for a new car.  Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they know of any good used cars for sale.  If you have any questions about buying a used car please leave a comment below.