Now that you’ve got an idea of what type of car you want, it’s time to start shopping around. Here are some things to keep in mind when you start doing test drives. Don’t buy until you’re ready. If you shop with a friend who is objective, it can help you avoid rash decisions.
- Do the necessary research beforehand. If you’re thinking about a specific make and model, you should have a good idea of what a good price should be.
- Take a long test drive. Get familiar with the vehicle. This should be a 15- or 20-minute test drive, not a 5-minute trip around the block. If you’re considering a used car, see what can be done to safeguard yourself.
- Ask for a vehicle repair history or ask the seller for the “VIN” – the Vehicle Identification Number so you can get a vehicle repair history for yourself. CARFAX is a popular source for a vehicle’s history. Also, some dealers have Certified Used Vehicles that come with a complete inspection, repairs and warranty – although you’ll surely pay a little extra for them.
- Finally, take the vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection, if possible. If a private seller is confident in the car or truck, he or she shouldn’t have any concerns with the arrangement.
Your Lowest Monthly Payment
Everyone is looking for the lowest possible monthly payment, and the price of a car goes a long way in determining that figure. However, there are a few other things you can do to make things more affordable.
- Do the math. Many lenders offer 0% financing, which sounds great. However, if you’re being asked to give up all other rebates and discounts, your best move may be to take all available incentives and pair them with a low loan rate from Veridian. Here, you’ll see a $2,500 rebate and 2% interest rate would give you a lower monthly payment than 0% financing and no rebate.
- Put down a larger down payment. This way, you’ll be paying interest on a smaller amount – and it could even get you a lower interest rate. Generally, 20% down is a good guide, and if time allows for it, start saving for that down payment now. Lengthen the term of the loan. Simply extending your loan another 12 months could reduce the monthly payment by $100 or more. Improve your credit score.
- If your score is sub-par, ask us what steps you could take to repair your credit. It could get you a lower interest rate. Consider a lease. A lease can get you into a new car with a lower monthly payment, although you’ll want be aware of mileage limits and any large payment or fees that are due at the beginning or the end of the lease.