So, you’re in the market for your next car. That’s great! Having a new set of wheels can be a wonderful feeling. Of course, the process of actually choosing and buying that set of wheels is a little less pleasant. That’s why people here in Pennsylvania and all across the country hate car shopping. It can be stressful, bewildering, and can separate you from a big chunk of your hard-earned money.
Choosing and buying a vehicle doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, though. Here’s how to find your next car in Pennsylvania without losing your mind.
When you’re shopping for a car, knowledge is power. The more that you know about the car that you want and the prices that cars typically go for, the better equipped you’ll be to negotiate the best price and get the deal that you want.
The specific stuff comes later, but you should start your car shopping experience by leafing through catalogs and browsing on the internet. Don’t worry about making any decisions yet; just get a sense of what’s on the market and what sort of features you may want in your car.
Determine your budget
A lot goes into your choice of vehicle, but nothing is as important as your budget. Spending too much on a car and taking out too large of a loan can be financially devastating, yet many Americans do just that. An alarming number of Americans are behind on their car payments.
Try to keep your car loan’s monthly payment to less than 10 percent of your take-home income, or use a broader benchmark of 20 percent for all car-related expenses (including gas, insurance, and the rest). Once you have your budget, consider it gospel. Don’t alter it to go after some expensive dream car.
With your budget in hand, shop around for financing. You don’t have to wait to do this at the dealership. Plus, shopping around might net you a better deal. Get pre-approved before you go shopping.
Process of elimination
With a bit of background knowledge, you’re ready to start thinking about which car you actually want. Rather than trying to pick a bunch of specific options right off the bat, you might want to start by eliminating certain types of vehicles from contention. Think about how you’ll use your car: Do you need something that can handle the rural Pennsylvania winter? Do you need a smaller vehicle to navigate narrow city streets? Do you need a car for commuting to work, or a vehicle that can haul the whole family? Cut out vehicles that are too small, too expensive, too unwieldy, or that you just plain don’t like. You should find that you can pretty quickly narrow down your choices to certain types of autos.
Once you’ve gotten this far, it’s time to start thinking about what would sweeten the deal. Is gas mileage important? How about all-wheel drive? Or safety features? Ask yourself how you would rank these priorities. With this information, you can start to narrow down the field even further and rank the remaining options.
Turn to reliable dealerships
You can buy used cars from individuals in Pennsylvania. But that’s not necessarily a great idea, explain experts who run a used car dealership in Allentown PA. When you get a car directly from its previous owner, you don’t necessarily know that it’s a quality vehicle. You can get it checked out by a mechanic, but you still won’t have the certifications, guarantees, and warranties that dealerships offer.
So head to a dealership (or several), take some test-drives, and get a vehicle that you can count on. If you shop in the right places, you’ll find good deals on vehicles that won’t let you down.