The Newbie’s Guide to Car Shopping

Shopping for a car is not most people’s idea of a good time. In fact, study after study has revealed just how stressful people find car shopping. Most consumers dislike dealers, worry that they’re getting ripped off, and feel stressed and overwhelmed by their choices and the financial necessities of buying a new or used vehicle. Unfortunately, this particular chore is one that’s hard to avoid. The overwhelming majority of Americans live in areas where having a car is enormously helpful or, in many cases, a virtual necessity.

All this is how you end up where you are now. Staring down the unpleasant chore of shopping for your next car, truck, SUV, or other vehicle. It’s not that you’re not excited about your new ride; it’s just that you’re not thrilled about the process you’ll have to go through to get it. We’re here to help. Below, you’ll find an essential guide to buying a car without losing your mind. 

Your budget is everything

Cars don’t come cheap, but simply not buying one isn’t an option for the huge numbers of Americans who need a set of wheels to commute to work. That’s why many car buyers take out loans. A car loan isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but you should be careful. Make sure that you calculate how much car you can afford, and make sure that you stick to your budget.

There’s no single standard for making a car budget, but popular rules of thumb suggest that you should spend no more than 15 percent of your take-home (pretax) income on car expenses — which include not only your car payments but also what you spend on gas, maintenance, tolls, and other car-related costs.

Deciding between new and used vehicles

Finding the right vehicle for you means considering your priorities and then contrasting them with your options. If you’re going to make an informed decision, though, you need to decide early on whether or not you’ll consider used vehicles.

Buying used will bring down costs quite a bit, because the previous owner will have taken the hit of the vehicle’s initial depreciation. You may be able to afford more of what you want if you buy used. There are drawbacks, too, however. Your vehicle may not last as long, and it’s of course older and not brand-new. Consider all of your options, and be sure to use vehicle history reports and other resources to protect yourself if you decide to buy a car used.

Searching for your dream car

The perfect car for you is out there somewhere. But can you find it?

Start with the basics. Do you want a car? A truck? An SUV? And are you buying new or used? Narrow down your options with your non-negotiable criteria. You know how many seats you need and what minimum safety ratings you’ll accept. Next, add what you want, but can live without. Rank your priorities and compare models to find your top options.

Then, start looking for the ideal new or used car. You don’t have to limit your search to the dealership — looking for your next car online is likely to give you more options. Plus, modern online car marketplaces can let you see dealer stock, too. For instance, you can search for used car dealerships in reading pa on and get — you guessed it — local results from real local used car dealers in the Reading, Pennsylvania, area..

Keep looking until you find the right deal on the right vehicle — and then pounce! By using the internet, you can keep stress levels low, do research on your own time, and make the entire car-buying experience a lot less painful.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.