Buying a new car or truck

Buying a new car or truck will likely be the second-largest purchase you will ever make, but it doesn’t need to be a complicated process. There are plenty of helpful resources available to help you determine your needs, answer your questions, and make an informed choice.

Before going online or to the dealership, sit down and determine what your wants and needs are in a vehicle. Buying a new vehicle can be a long-term commitment. While it’s important that the new car or truck meets all your functional needs, you also want it to satisfy some of your emotional desires as well.

What it really all comes down to is what you’re looking for in a vehicle. Are you a performance-oriented driver, looking for speed and handling? Do your passenger and cargo needs dictate an SUV or a minivan? Are you after luxury features, reputation, or the image of a high-end vehicle?

Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for in a new car, truck or SUV, it’s time to determine what your budget is. For most people this will be a monthly budget. Decide beforehand what payment you can comfortably afford before gas, insurance and regular maintenance. You may be surprised at how much vehicle you can afford.

Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for and how much you can afford, it’s time to start doing your research. Start looking at what your friends and co-workers are driving and ask them how they like it and where they purchased it. Car ads in the newspaper and online are invisible until you’re in the market. Once you are, you’ll notice them everywhere. They are a good way of seeing what’s new since the last time you shopped for a vehicle.

Always check out the different models. Don’t limit yourself to one kind of body style. An SUV may meet your needs as much as a truck or car.

Go online to different manufacturers’ websites. Most have a great tool called build and price. It allows you to build and price out the exact vehicle you want. This exercise will usually result in you realizing that you can afford more or maybe less then you thought. If you don’t have access to the internet or are not comfortable with it your local dealership will help you with it.

At this stage, you’ll probably want to decide which things are most important to you. Are you more concerned about a car’s performance or passenger capacity? Its tow rating or its luxury features? You can certainly have it all if you want, but it’s good to keep in mind what your priorities are, especially if you will need to give some things up to fit your budget.

Check your local dealership’s online reviews on Facebook and Google to see how the dealership responds to existing customers. This can offer some good insight as to how you will be treated. All dealerships are friendly before you buy. How friendly are they after?

Once you have a good idea of your wants and needs, what will fit in your budget and what dealerships you like it’s time to visit some local dealerships to talk to sales consultants. They will sit down with you and do a needs assessment, which will help you choose one or more models that best suit your requirements. Before the actual test drive, the sales consultant will do a “walkaround” of the car, explaining its many features and benefits.

After the walkaround is complete, you’ll get into the car and learn about additional operational features. Then you get to take the wheel and experience the car. The sales consultant will answer any questions you have.

You should try to cover all sorts of driving conditions, including city and highway along with hills. Try to park it at one of the malls to see how you can handle it in real life situations. You may want to bring friends or family along as they may notice things you don’t. Their impressions of the car as passengers will be almost as important as yours.

As we talked about earlier, buying a car is a long-term commitment. When you’re considering a vehicle, also consider the dealership you’re buying it from. Take a tour of the premises after your test drive. Check out the service department and talk to people. Check out what amenities are available when you’re in for service.

Plan ahead and you’ll have a lot more peace of mind through the process.

Catch Driving With Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.

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