When it comes time to buy your first car or replace your old one, it’s easy to get excited. Car shopping is one of the most enjoyable things you can do as an adult.
Not only does your style of car say a lot about you and your life, but it’s also a close companion. We rely on our vehicles for everything from driving to work to taking our kids to school.
However, before you make any big decisions, there are some questions to ask when buying a new car. Keep reading for a quick guide on everything you need to know to make the best, most informed decision.
1. How Much Room Do I Have in My Monthly Budget?
First, and most importantly, you need to ask yourself, “How expensive of a car can I afford?” To find the answer to this question, assess your monthly cash flow.
How much money do you make? What expenses do you have? How much money do you have leftover at the end of the month?
Remember, affording a car is more than just making your monthly loan payments. You also need to consider:
- Car insurance
- Maintenance and repairs
Make sure you agree to a loan that you can comfortably afford each month. You should never buy a car that you’ll have trouble making payments on.
2. Can I Qualify for the Loan I Want?
Next, just because you determine how much you can personally afford on a new car, it doesn’t mean your lender will agree with you. For example, if you have poor or little credit, you might struggle to get a car loan.
We recommend getting pre-approved before you start car shopping to ensure you are qualified for the loan amount and terms you are looking for. Take a look at this car loans guide to understand your options.
Finding out your loan eligibility is one of the most important questions to ask when buying a new car.
3. What Kind of Vehicle Should I Buy?
One of the most practical car buying questions is “What kind of car do I need?” Take a look at your lifestyle, family, and needs to determine the best type of vehicle.
For example, if you do a lot of personal or professional traveling, you’ll want a vehicle that’s comfortable and economical. If you have children, spaciousness and safety should be two of your top priorities.
Additionally, think about your hobbies and interests. If you like hiking, camping, hunting, and other outdoor recreational activities, you might need a vehicle that has four-wheel drive. If you plan on hauling campers, boats, trailers, and other items, you need a car that’s capable of towing heavy objects.
4. Should I Buy New or Used?
One of the most common questions to ask when buying a new car is whether you want to buy new or used. Both options have pros and cons.
For example, a brand new car has no previous owners, which is comforting in its own way. It will also come with valuable warranties from the manufacturer and all the latest technology. However, brand new cars are incredibly expensive and depreciate in value rapidly.
Conversely, used cars are much more affordable. They’re cheaper to buy, insure, and register (in most states). If you buy a car that’s several years old, the worst of the depreciation will have already happened.
However, buying a used car means buying a car with a history. The warranties will likely have expired and you’ll never know everything about the vehicle. Fortunately, used cars have vehicle history reports that provide a ton of information, such as:
- Previous owners
- Commercial use (fleet/rental/lease)
- Locations of the previous registrations
- Maintenance history
- Factory recalls
- Accidents and repairs
Modern technology has made vehicle history reports incredibly accurate. If you’re buying used, one of the most important car buying tips is to make sure you get your hands on the vehicle history report before signing any contracts.
5. Should I Buy from a Dealership or Private Seller?
Next, you might be wondering about the best way to buy a new car. Should you buy from a credible dealership or from a private seller? Once again, there are advantages and disadvantages to each scenario.
If you buy from a dealership, you’re buying from a trusted, insured, and professional seller. Their integrity is upheld by their business license. You also have more car shopping options if you’re buying from a dealership.
Furthermore, dealerships offer in-house financing, repairs, parts, and more. However, because a car dealership is a business, they also have costs. This means you’ll be paying prices that are slightly marked up.
Alternatively, buying from a private seller has the potential to save you money. However, when buying from a private seller, you’re gambling on the individual’s integrity. You will be trusting a complete stranger to be completely honest about the condition of the vehicle.
6. Is the Vehicle Covered Under Any Warranties?
One of the most important questions to ask when buying a new car is if you want to find a vehicle protected under warranties. There are two major types of warranties – bumper-to-bumper and powertrain.
Most new cars come with five-year/60,000-mile manufacturer warranties. When buying used, the vehicle might still fall under the protection, assuming it has less than 60,000 miles and is under five years old. If it doesn’t fall under those parameters, it will not be covered under a warranty.
However, you can opt for certified pre-owned vehicles that come with renewed warranties. While CPOs are slightly more expensive, they are a happy medium between used and brand new vehicles.
7. Can I Test Drive the Car and Have It Checked Out by My Mechanic?
Finally, test driving a vehicle before you buy it is one of the best tips for buying a car (new or used). You must drive the car to make sure you actually enjoy driving it.
Does it handle easily? Is it intuitive? Will you feel comfortable driving it in your daily life?
Additionally, test driving a car allows you to ensure all the components of the car are functioning properly. We also recommend taking it to a private mechanic to get an inspection. They’ll be able to spot any concerning issues or damages that the seller might not have disclosed.
Do You Know the Right Questions to Ask When Buying a New Car?
If you’re in the market for a vehicle, you must know what questions to ask when buying a new car. Asking these questions can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. Write down the questions listed in this article or save this page to have a quick reference when it comes time to start car shopping.
And if you’re looking for more consumer tips or lifestyle advice, check out some of our other articles while you’re here. Our blog was created to keep people like you informed.