Buying a Car

Buying a car can be both really exciting and somewhat daunting. Having a little practical knowledge in your back pocket about how to buy a car, will help you navigate successfully through some necessary pre-purchase footwork. Only then should you allow yourself to become intoxicated with that new (or used) car smell. Aaaahhhhhhh.....

What kind of a vehicle do you need?

A big, tough truck sure sounds like fun! Exploring back roads and ploughing through mud...on the other hand, you've still got a daily commute to think about, there are gas prices to consider and your parking spot is already pretty snug. And is it comfortable and practical for the family or for long road trips? Be sure to think about all the ways you're going to use your new vehicle and choose the car or truck, motorcycle or motorhome that's right for the way you live today.

Financing a vehicle

You've probably already noticed many dealers offer 0% financing on new cars. Maybe it really is the best deal for you, but maybe it's not. Work out what 20% of your net income looks like. That's the maximum amount you should consider spending on a vehicle. Then consider the monthly payments you'll be making, factoring in your household's other regular expenses. Is it still a good deal? Or should you think about other options? Know before you go!

New or used?

The difference is obvious. One has been driven by another owner and already has some mileage on it. It may also have had some damage or repairs, or has some hidden damage that will need repairing down the road. The other vehicle is cherry, with only a few test-drives on it. Which one you should choose isn't quite to clear a choice. Many of us aren't mechanically inclined, so do your research. This isn't a time to "go with your gut." Read some consumer reports, talk to some experts, and if the vehicle you're considering is used, find out about its history by purchasing a car report. Also, a pre-sale mechanical inspection is a smart move.

Lease or buy?

If you have cash in hand, you can skip over this part. Depending on the monthly payment you can afford and a few other factors, most of us will either lease or finance. There are things to consider with either option. By leasing, you'll be driving a new car while making relatively low monthly payments. The disadvantage is that you may never actually own that car. A lease contains many restrictions and penalties, some of which might not fit with your driving style and habits. Read the fine print carefully before you commit to anything.

Financing a vehicle through ACU or elsewhere can mean you'll have a higher monthly payment. The upside is you'll know that one day, that baby will be all yours.

Think before you buy

Before you sign on the dotted line, pause for a moment. Does it feel like the right thing to do? Don't feel pressured into making a decision. If you don't buy today, there will still be other great vehicles available tomorrow. Go over your checklist to be sure you're choosing a vehicle you can afford, that fits your lifestyle, and that you know to be in good condition. Still like it? Then go ahead! Enjoy your new ride, and drive away with the satisfaction of knowing you're a smart consumer.


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