Blog Car Buying Ultimate Checklist for Buying a New Car
Car Buying

Ultimate Checklist for Buying a New Car

Looking for a mechanic near you for maintenance or repair? AutoNation Mobile Service brings the shop to you. Get a free instant quote today.
Get a Quote

For the average person, buying a new car doesn’t happen often. Whether you’re choosing between a Mazda or a Mercedes, the purchase of a new car should be an exciting moment, but it often feels more stressful than anything. If you’re in the market for a new car and feeling utterly flustered, fear not. We’ve put together the ultimate checklist for buying a new car, so you can enjoy that new car smell without the stress.

It All Starts With Research

Once you’ve decided to buy a car, the more research you carry out before you visit a car dealership, the fewer decisions you have to make on the spot when a salesperson is trying to pressure you into making a purchase.

Answering the following questions will put you on the right path from the beginning:

• What will you be using your new car for?
• How much space do you really need?
• How much are you planning to spend?
• What models and styles appeal to you?

Answering these questions will give you a short list of cars that you can check out further by reading online reviews, road tests, and owner reviews. Make a point of visiting the manufacturers’ websites to check out what trim levels and options are available. Don’t just settle for the cheapest new car as this is a time to buy a car that perfectly suits your needs.

Go Shopping For Financing

At this point, you should know how much you’re willing to spend and how much the car you want costs. This is all the information you need to go shopping for financing. Even if you are planning to get the car financed by the dealership, shopping around for financing and getting the most competitive interest rate you can find will save you thousands of dollars.

Getting pre-approved gives you an even greater advantage because now the car dealership will have to beat your finance company’s interest rate, and often they will, if it means making the sale. By completing this one step, you are giving yourself a huge advantage before you even set foot in the dealership. It’s worth mentioning that the cheapest time to buy a new car is just after a new model is released. If you are satisfied with driving the previous year’s model, you will save a lot of money as car dealers offer generous incentives to clear old stock.

Time To Visit The Dealership

Now that you’ve thoroughly researched the cars you’re interested in, the options you need, and have pre-approved financing with a competitive interest rate – it’s time to go car shopping! However, before you head out to buy a car, make sure you have all the paperwork you’ll need, so you are ready to make a purchase.

In most cases, you’ll need to bring the following with you:

• Driver’s license
• Pre-approved loan application
• Proof of insurance
• Money for the down payment

Bust Out Your Magnifying Glass

Even though a salesperson is probably hovering over you at this stage, take as much time as you need to thoroughly check any cars that you’re interested in. Pay particular attention to all the gadgets and features that are included. Note how easy they are to access, and how intuitive they feel to use.

If you do have a salesperson looking over your shoulder, you can take advantage of this by asking them to show you how everything in the car works. You can also use this time to find out exactly what the car does and doesn’t come with. Even the cheapest new cars nowadays are loaded with technology, so take the time to familiarize yourself with it.

Time For A Test Drive

If you’re happy with everything you’ve seen so far, the next step is taking the car for a test drive. Let the salesperson know that you’re going to be around 20 minutes and don’t settle for a quick lap around the block!

This is an opportunity to test the car in a variety of situations, on different road surfaces and at different speeds. Pay attention to how comfortable the car is, the level of road noise, how it handles during low-speed maneuvering and how easy it is to park.

Make A Deal

If the stars have aligned and you’ve found the exact car you’re looking for with all the options you need, you can go ahead and negotiate a price. This is the step where things can get confusing as the car dealership will try and upsell you extras like an extended warranty and aftermarket accessories. Whether these are any value to you depends on your individual circumstances, but remember that anything bought from the dealership is generally sold at a premium price.

Sign On The Dotted Line

You’re almost out the gate but don’t be too eager just yet. Signing the paperwork can be done with a quick scribble but this is one of the most important parts of the entire process. Read the entire contract you’re signing, including the fine print and any additionally clauses. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask for clarification. The contract is to protect both the seller and buyer, so it’s crucial that you understand exactly what you are signing.

Enjoy Your New Ride

Now you’ve done all the hard work, it’s time to take your new car home….almost! The final step before you hit the road is to check that you have appropriate coverage with your insurer or warranty provider. Don’t automatically assume that the dealership offered extended warranty is the best option – shop around with third party providers to get the best coverage for your budget.

Once you’ve worked your way through this checklist, the only thing to do is enjoy your new car and have fun planning your first road trip!