How to Buy a New Car, Part 1: Picking the Right Car

(This is the first article in a five part series explaining how to buy a new car, from start to finish. To see more articles from this series, check out our news section)

Part 1: Picking the Right Car

Finding the right car can be a complicated process with lots of factors so we are here to help.

Most new car shoppers start this process by looking for the car they want, but we have an alternative: figure out which cars you can afford first. It's not a stretch to say that next to buying a home, a car is the second largest purchase that most people make. So instead of picking a car and asking "can I afford it," why not start by figuring out what cars you can afford?

Figuring out how much to spend:

A few things to keep in mind:

  • As a general rule, banks don't want you to spend more than 15 percent of your monthly income on a car payment. While this is a good rule to start with we would go even further and say it should be less than that. A new car purchase is not something to be entered into lightly, so make sure beforehand that it's something that you can afford.
  • Unsure of what interest rate you will receive? That's ok, there are a few easy ways to get an idea of what kind of rates you qualify for before you set foot in a showroom. The best way is to get a pre-approved rate for a new car loan from a bank or credit union. This not only gives you a better idea of how large your monthly payments will end up being, but it gives you an idea of your credit rating.

Picking the car:

Everyone comes to car buying with a unique set of priorities; thankfully there are a lot of new cars for sale in all shapes and sizes. Finding one to fit your budget/needs might take some research, but ultimately there is a car out there for you.

If you don't know exactly which vehicle you want, we offer a wide range of side-by-side comparisons. See our Car Comparison Reviews, which allow you to see how models stack up in a side-by-side comparison in several key categories including price, fuel economy, seating capacity, and safety. This is a great place to start to not only get an idea of what you want, but to compare prices and features as well.

We would also recommend setting aside a little time to test drive a few different models you are considering. There's no substitute for seat time and you may find each new car has quirks that you will love or hate. Click here or use the box on the right side of this page to get a free new car price quote and get in touch with a dealer to schedule a test drive.

Next: Part 2 — Loan vs. Lease

Ready to buy? Get a price quote before visiting the dealership.

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