The below is a sponsored post.
Shopping for a car can be downright stressful. The last time that I did it, I did it all by myself. I refused to be stressed. Being the tech savvy person that I am, I researched EVERYTHING online. I got pre-approved. And I went ready. I narrowed it down to 3-4 vehicles. I knew that I wanted an SUV. I knew that I needed 3 rows to accommodate my family. And I knew that I needed good cargo space. Those were must haves. Everything else was pretty much a want…. sunroof, leather seats (actually with small children these are a must for easy spill cleanups), and a great stereo system.
Here are my 5 tips for choosing the right vehicle:
Research, research, research
I am against just wandering into a dealership and looking at cars. Why? The salesman will be all over you! And, you are more vulnerable if you do not know exactly what model you want, what you can afford, and what features you need. Doing this will likely lead to the salesman trying to upsell you. You will want to narrow down the models that you want, the features, which vehicles get good reviews, and what you want to spend.
Visiting a site like Cars.com can help you do all of the footwork without getting out of your pajamas. I love my SUV, but I want to upgrade it. Blame Ford… they changed the body style and added things that I know I will love. I am not quite sure exactly when I will be able to upgrade yet, but I am already researching. I’ve actually been researching for a few months. I know what I want. And on the Cars.com website I was able to look for cars at multiple dealerships within a 75 mile radius of my home. But, if you are willing to go farther you can search a 500 mile radius or more!
I narrowed my search down to 2016 – 2017 Ford Explorer XLT and Limited models with sunroof, leather seats, and 4WD. It brought up 45 vehicles. That is a reasonable number for me to click through. I did not choose a color because I have not decided on one color versus another. The color I get will depend more on features. Yes, I do like some more than others, but features are more important.
I also installed the Cars.com app a few months ago. I was able to set up the preferences for the vehicle that I am looking for so that I can easily pull up the search. And I can enable notifications that will alert me if the price on my saved cars drop. Even though I am not sure when I’m buying, if I get a popup of the perfect deal I just may run to the dealership!
Other than the haggling, the loan and paperwork part of buying a car is the sucky part. Just like buying a home, being pre-approved for your loan can save you valuable time when it gets down to making the actual purchase. If you have your loan set, you will spend less time in the finance office talking to a loan officer. Through Cars.com, you can get pre-approved through a partnership with Roadloans.com after calculating your payment, financing, and taxes.
Once you know exactly what you want, consider going for a test drive. Traditional dealers are nice, but they may be limited in the cars that they have on hand. So, if you are not sure exactly which model you want yet, and your choices span multiple manufacturers, consider visiting one of the “super dealers” as I like to call them. They have multiple manufacturers on hand, and some have a “no haggle” policy which means that they let you browse and touch the cars without feeling like you are being stalked by a salesman. However, if you know exactly the vehicle you are looking for, Cars.com will tell you which dealers have it. You can then go directly there to check out that actual vehicle. No better way to know that you love it, other than to get a feel for how it drives.
Eat Before You Go
I made this mistake before! I headed off to the dealership having no idea exactly how long it would take. When we purchased our minivan we actually had my infant daughters with us! DO NOT DO THIS!! LOL! Find a sitter for the kids. Anyway, back to the point… you would be surprised how long it might take. You could be there for 3 hours or more. Make sure that you eat first! And put some snacks in your purse if you absolutely have to take the kids with you. And by all means, have some coffee!
Take a Buddy
As mentioned above, it might take a while. You may get bored. And it helps to take a friend along that knows about cars, and one that has gone through the car buying process before. They can provide valuable feedback on features, whether they think you are getting a good deal, or just help you make the hard decision on which color you want.
Buying a car is a huge decision, but it does not have to be overall stressful. Using these tips can make the difference between dreading the process, or considering it a happy ending.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cars.com. All opinions are my own.