Read these 16 Buying A New Car Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Car Buying tips and hundreds of other topics.
If you are buying a new car, you need to consider the increased costs to insure and register the vehicle. Before you get your heart set on a specific model, narrow your field of possible cars down to a handful, and then check with your insurance company to see which ones are the most economical to insure.
You will be surprised how much of a difference in cost for insurance and registration can exist between seemingly similar cars. Other than car model, things that can affect your premiums include your driving record and where you live.
*Insurance companies frequently offer safe driver discounts to those with clean driving records. If you live in a low-crime neighborhood where car theft is a rare occurrence, you can shave as much as 15% off your premiums.
Everyone has a theory about the best time to buy a new car to get the lowest prices. As it turns out, however, there really are certain times of the year when you can get extraordinary deals:
• December—it's the end of the year and the dealers are worrying about making end of year quotas
• July through October—dealers are trying to make room for the new model year cars
Very often there are unadvertised factory to dealer incentives during these periods. Even if the dealer splits the incentive down the middle, you still get a great deal.
Your existing car is paid off, but it is becoming more costly to maintain. How do you know when the time is right to buy a new car? Living by the "no car payment" mantra can be good for your pocketbook, but there comes a point when repairs to your trusty Toyota begin costing more than a car loan or lease payment. These days, you can buy or lease a reliable new car for as little as $200 a month—sometimes less.
Contact your mechanic and ask for a summary of repair costs for the trailing 12-month period on your existing car. If it totals more than you would have paid for a new car loan or lease payment, you may want to consider new wheels. You're finances will gain predictability, and you won't have the added stress of wondering where and when you'll break down next.
Most people are not aware that weight plays a huge part in how your car performs in all situations. A lighter car has the ability to:
• Accelerate faster
• Stop more quickly
• Handle better
• Get increased gas mileage
Less weight means less work for the engine, brakes, and suspension (this can mean money in your pocket thanks to the engine's ability to more efficiently use power and less wear and tear on the brakes).
*Lighter cars are also less expensive to register in states where registration fees are based on vehicle weight. When buying a new car, consider the cost savings of lighter vehicles.
New cars are a pleasure, but they do cost more to own and operate. If you are looking for ways to lower your auto insurance costs, check out "Nine Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs," a publication of the United State's Department of Agriculture.
*You can download the PDF version free at the Federal Citizen Information Center's Web site, or you can order a print copy for $1.00 from the site.
New car buying used to mean slogging around multiple dealer lots and falling prey to high-pressure salespeople early in the process. Today, however, you can (and should) get multiple new car quotes from local dealers over the Internet before you even step one foot on the lot.
Dealer's today understand that consumers are Web savvy and that they are likely not the only one receiving a quote request. For that reason, you're more likely to receive a truly competitive quote. Some dealerships are still on a learning curve when it comes to responding to online quote requests. You may get slow responses from some or canned form letters by e-mail from others. Still, more and more dealers are stepping up to car shopping's cutting edge and are ready and waiting for your quote request. It pays to surf the Internet and find the best deal!
If you are in the market to make a new car purchase, you can research dealer incentives and rebates online. On certain web sites, you can simply plug in your zip code and you'll get a list of available incentives and rebates in your area. The information is comprehensive and includes everything from cash-back offers to dealer financing incentives and brand loyalty credit card cash back deals.
*Not sure which is the better deal, cash back or low interest rate financing? Visit Edmunds.com and use its decision calculator to help figure it out.
If you are uncomfortable transacting business over the Internet and prefer to do your new car search the "old-fashioned" way, there are plenty of other resources available to you.
Some magazines offer new vehicle reviews. You can subscribe to the publication, view it at your local library (some will even let you check out back issues), or buy it at your local book store. You may also want to pick up a copy of Consumer Reports New Car Buying Guide, which is thick with new car reviews and tips on buying a new car.
If you are after the ultimate car audio experience, remember that speakers can make or break a car stereo system. When selecting options for your new car purchase, go for the best performance (or customize with a separate component set in). With a separate component, each speaker (the tweeter, the mid-range, and the subwoofer) can produce a dedicated sound.
Speakers generally consist of a magnet, a basket, a voice coil, and a paper, polypropylene, or plastic cone. While speakers that incorporate components are readily available, component systems provide the clearest sound possible.
High-end new cars sometimes come with premium sound system. A subwoofer (also known as a sub) is the speaker that produces bass in a stereo system. Individual speakers will often include a small, integrated woofer, but there are larger, dedicated woofers as well.
A good subwoofer will improve the sound of your car stereo system no matter what style music you prefer. Subwoofers come in sizes ranging from 8 inches to 15 inches. They are usually placed in an enclosure in the trunk of the car. Subwoofers can cost anywhere from $100 to $250 but may require a dedicated amplifier to operate, which will be an additional expense.
Looking for help choosing a new car? Visit the Federal Citizen Information Center and download a free PDF called "Buying A New Car." Published by the Federal Trade Commission, it offers a step-by-step guide that is a helpful tool for bargaining with dealers.
*You can order a print copy from the website for $1.00.
Head unit is another name for the CD player or tape deck in your new car stereo system. It's best to have a head unit that is of equal or better quality than the rest of the components in your stereo system. If your signal source is bad, then the rest of your system won't perform up to par. Major manufacturers such as Sony, Pioneer, Clarion, and Panasonic all make good quality head units that can be obtained for between $100 and $250.
*When selecting a head unit, pay attention to ergonomics. It doesn't matter how good your head unit is if you drive off the road trying to adjust the bass.
Get your car rockin'! Buying a new car? If you want to install a custom stereo system, you will need another power source besides the head unit (the CD player or tape player in older cars). Amplifiers power the speakers and come in a variety of power and channel configurations.
A channel is basically one power outlet per speaker. Amplifiers (or amps as they are also called) have anywhere from two to six channels. If you have a subwoofer, you may want to consider installing a separate amplifier off which to power the subwoofer.
*You should plan to spend anywhere from $150 for a basic amplifier to $1,000 for an amplifier with the greatest amount of power and number of channels.
While it is always a good idea to have your own trusted mechanic check out any used car you are serious about buying, you should also consider taking the car to a dealer specializing in that make and model car for an inspection.
A new car dealer will have specific knowledge of your car (including whether any recalls have been issued). Some dealers also have sophisticated diagnosis and repair equipment that a local garage may not.
Why leave your home? There are so many online resources available to today's consumers that buying a new car can be done almost entirely from home. Instead of wandering car lot after car lot, narrow your choices down by researching your options online. You can:
• Build your car online, carefully considering options in the comfort of your own home instead of succumbing to last-minute, high-pressure sales tactics at the dealership
• Crunch the numbers by researching transaction values (what buyers are paying for the car in your area), or what Edmunds.com calls "true market value"
• You can request car quotes from multiple dealers online (doing so puts you in a much better negotiating position)
*If you're comfortable with online transactions, you can complete the transaction online conducting dealer communication by e-mail and having the car delivered to your doorstep. In this case, paperwork would be completed by mail.
If you saved some money by buying a used car, you may have some left over to tweak the sound system. You should look into a good tweeter. A tweeter is the speaker that produces the high-pitched sounds in a stereo system. Tweeters range in size from a 0.5 inches to 1.50 inches in diameter. Multi-way speakers include a tweeter, a mid-range, and a small subwoofer.
*You'll get the clearest sound if you use a component system in which the tweeter is a dedicated speaker. Tweeters are generally not expensive and can be mounted on the windshield pillars of your car.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|