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Your Guide to Buying a New Car

When buying a new car, try to make the right trade-off between price flexibility and commitment. Don't go gung ho at the car search process, forgetting important things like how much you are willing to spend, how quick you want the car, features that are important to you, and whether you would need financing or whether you plan to do an all-cash purchase. Other things to consider are the kind of questions to ask the car dealer, where you can purchase the vehicle, and the best time to consider a purchase.

What to Do Before Purchasing a New Vehicle?

Before you set foot in a car dealership, you should take care of a few things and make sure you have your own paperwork in order, especially as it relates to tax returns, pay stubs and driver's license, among others. Here are some tips to make your auto purchase a success:

  • Meet with the sales manager, not the sales rep. By talking to the manager, you get an eagle's-eye view of what the dealership offers as well as the applicable terms and conditions for financing. Don't get me wrong: a sales rep can also give you that information, but sometimes it is better to talk to the dealership's boss to get comprehensive about products and services that the company provides – not to mention the fact that, when decision time comes, the auto loan companies approval process would be above the sales rep's pay grade.
  • Get quotes from online resources, such as Web-based dealers and car review portals.
  • Resist the urge to purchase a car on your first visit.
  • Get financing from your bank or credit union, if possible. Financing arrangements you get through the car dealership may not be the best deals around because the annual percentage rate (APR) you are charged includes both the dealership's markup and the lender's profit.
  • Check your credit history to ascertain things like credit score, transaction history and lender list.
  • Know the final price tag on the car you want. If the price fluctuates within a specific range, commit that information to memory, too. That way, you would be prepared to have a productive conversation with the dealership's manager and to better negotiate on everything from warranty to pricing to APR.
Your Guide to Buying a New Car

Where Can I Buy a New Car?

You can purchase a new car through a Web-based seller; at the dealership around the corner, two blocks down from your house, for example; and sometimes via the manufacturer, especially for custom-made or limited-series, luxurious automobiles. It is fair to say, in essence, that the quickest way to buy a new car is to canvass dealerships in your neighborhood, to determine which ones sell the brand and model you want, and to ask questions – lots of questions.

Where Can I Shop for New Automobiles?

Make a distinction between where and how you shop for new cars and where you buy a new car. Both concepts are distinct although it is not uncommon to see people buy new automobiles through the same channel – say, dealerships – they used when doing pre-purchase research. A car comparison site like Yahoo Autos or is a good place to start. On either portal, you can input the make, model, year and trim of each car, up to four cars, and click on the "Compare" button to see how they stack up against each other. Besides car-comparison portals, visit the manufacturer's website or the sites of associated dealers to learn more about the vehicle you want to purchase.

Who Can Help Me Find the Car I Want?

An auto industry expert I've known for quite some time says that a critical step in buying a new car is to try to gather as many resources as possible and use the most important resources to nail down the best car and financing options. In other words, you should not be spending time, energy and money chasing questionable deals on websites or dealerships with no track record. Instead, rely on reputable sources, such as:

  • Family and friends – they can help you find your new car, especially if some next of kin have proficiency in everything mechanical or car-related.
  • Online review sites – they also are a good place to look when thinking about buying a new automobile. There are many good ones out there like
  • Car dealerships – which can help you find your new dream car, but their inventories may be limited to a specific brand or make.
  • The manufacturer's website – a treasure trove for everything about a specific make and model. Car producers are adept at describing their products, and usually devote a specific page or section to each vehicle.

When Should I Buy a New Vehicle?

Buy during the "cheap season" – simple as that! Look for special promos and discount seasons, such as Thanksgiving and July 4, and seize any opportunity that fits within your budget and automobile preferences. Many manufacturers and dealerships have ongoing rebate programs, so check with your dealer to learn more about pricing opportunities.


To make your new-car purchase process a success, know what questions to ask before you enter a dealership. Also shop around using resources as varied as online review sites and manufacturers' portals before committing to a specific vehicle. Other elements to factor into the purchase equation include whom to ask for help as well as when to buy the new automobile.

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