7 Things to Know before Car Shopping ...

If you’re in the market for a new car, there are a few things you should know before you go. Yes, it’s a good idea to think about which make or model you might want, but there are some other things to consider, some other details to hash out before you take that first test drive or even set foot in a show room. Here are 7 things to know before car shopping.

1. Budget

First and foremost, you need to know how much you’ll be able to spend on a car, including a down payment and monthly lease or purchase fees. Also consider how much you can spend on gas (so think about fuel efficiency) and insurance. We’ll talk more about insurance later, but have at least a rough idea of how much you can spend, in total, every month.

2. Credit Score

Did you know a less-than-stellar credit rating can mean higher loan interest rates for you, if you can get a loan at all? That’s why it’s so important to know your credit score — not just the number, but what’s on the report itself. If there are mistakes, which there are actually a lot of, you need to know so you can have them repaired before you car shop… or you may end up paying a lot more.

3. Driving Habits

How and where and when will you be driving this car? To work and back only? Or for pleasure on the weekends? Mostly highway, or lots of city? Will you be using it to move large, heavy equipment, or just for carting the kids and groceries around? Consider your driving habits and needs, then start shopping.

4. Wants

You don’t have to be all practical when you’re thinking about shopping for a car. There are a few things, frivolous things, I always consider when I’m considering a new car — heated seats and a sun roof. Aside from thinking of what you NEED, think about what you WANT, too.

5. Insurance

Now, back to insurance. If you’re trying to save money on insurance, remember that coupes always cost more than sedans, and that sports cars and convertibles are pricey, too. Also, keep this in mind: red cars tend to attract a lot of police attention in terms of speeding tickets… so you may want to think about a nice beige car… fewer speeding tickets means cheaper insurance, too.

6. What You DON’T Want

Could you care less about leather seats, or a bumping sound system? Consider the things that you know will cost more that you just don’t care about, and square those in your mind before you set out for the showroom. Don’t let a salesperson try to upsell you — if you don’t want the pay extra for satellite radio, then don’t buy it!

7. Mechanic

One last thing to consider — your trusted mechanic. Let him know you’re car shopping, and have him on speed dial so he can check out whatever you find before you buy it and are potentially stuck with a lemon. Mine test-drove and inspected 12 before we found the right car for me. It was worth all the hassle and expense to get a car I knew I could count on for the next ten years.

Once you’ve consider all of these things, and have all your ducks in a row, it’s time to start thinking about the fun stuff, like exactly which sleek black convertible to test drive first! Are you a veteran car shopper, and if so, do you have any other pre-shopping tips to share?

Top Photo Credit: Pixmac-com