Buying a new or even a late model used car is exciting and sometimes without proper planning can end in tears. So here are a few tips to help you plan a little before talking to a sales person.

Want over Need

We all know that what we want we don’t always need. Of course a luxury and/or next-generation technology is on the list but a basic A-to-B car is often more realistic. Leather seats might be nice, but maybe leather inserts will do to save a few bucks or even just cloth. Do you need a built-in sat-nav or is Apple CarPlay going to work? Cars come with all kinds of options so sit down and work out what’s crucial and what’s not.

What is my budget?

The budget is one of the biggest things. Sitting down and working out the amount you can spend or borrow and make payments on is huge. If you are money savvy and like doing spread sheets get that happening and see how it works out. If not you can always see your bank or accountant. You are best to see someone who really knows what they are talking about so you can get the best advise.

How long am I keeping this car?

Whether you’re the kind of person who upgrades cars every few years or plan on keeping this car in the family for years to come, servicing, long-term warranties and resale value are factors to consider. It might be worth spending a little more now to save a heap down the line.

What sort of car maintenance and insurance can I afford?

In an era of capped price servicing and multi-year/100,000 kilometre warranties, you need to know what works best for your car and budget, and what sort of protections you have. Will the service costs meet your budget? Does the insurance premium go up or down because of your lifestyle? Go online and get some quotes and toggle the options.

Where should I go for a new car?

Your local dealer is the most logical option, but it’s worth looking throughout your region to see what else is around. Once you have narrowed down your car search to what you like the look of and the price and features it has, research the dealerships reputations. Finding a fair and reputable dealership can help you get the best deal possible and avoid headaches. Do some research online to get to know more about the car dealerships in your area. Read reviews from other customers to find out what experiences they’ve had. A good dealer won’t pressure you to buy; instead, they’ll take the time to answer your questions and show you the various models. Just remember to be respectful of their time…after all; they are trying to make a living.

How many cars should I test?

Once you have narrowed down your focus to what you think ticks the most boxes and a few different dealers, head to those dealers and arrange a test drive. You can call and book the car and even try for 24 hours if you can so it’s thoroughly tested. If you have five candidates on your list, test all five. If it’s more or less, so be it. Even if the second car you drive feels like the right one, it’s not worth writing the others off. Confirmation by trying a few more never hurts. And knowledge of rival products could be a boon when negotiating.

How do I get the best deal?

Research and a little bit of timing can do you some favours here. Check out Car and Bike News regularly for the latest news and reviews. If you’re absolutely certain what you want and aren’t fussed on timing or particular options, time can be your friend. You may not be able to talk down the price of a car given its margins, but if you can get a discount on servicing, options or spares, you’re still saving money.

And, let’s face it, who doesn’t love landing a good deal?

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