Step 1: KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Before you do anything, before you look at anything, know what you can afford! It is very easy to fall in love with a car that is over your spending limit. Let's save the heartbreak, and set a price range. This way you can eliminate cars not in your budget before you fall "head over wheels."
Don't forget about taxes and fees, deposits, and interest rates! Take Massachusetts taxes and fees into consideration when setting your price range; they can increase your total payment by hundreds, even thousands. Also, discuss what you can afford to put down as a deposit--the more you put down, the lower your monthly payments will be (if you plan on financing, that is). The interest rates on your finance policy will directly effect your monthly payments. Watch out for APR incentives--0.9% may sound great when advertised, but when it expires after the first 12 months, you may end up paying more than you can afford each month. This brings us to our next step!
Step 2: KNOW YOUR CREDIT HISTORY
Your credit history will directly influence the interest rate you are given. So, know your credit report BEFORE you go into the car dealership. This way, you will know what to expect, and more often than not, your salesperson will ask you about it anyway. REMEMBER: It is illegal for a dealership to run a credit report without your permission! Also, most APR incentives are only given to customers with excellent credit--so if your credit is only OK don't be fooled by the fancy ad saying you can receive 1.9% APR. Read the fine print.
Step 3: KNOW YOUR NEEDS
What does the vehicle have to do for you? With so many choices these days when it comes to cars, knowing your needs is the best way to begin eliminating some of the options and packages. Do you have a large family? If so, then you might need a minivan or SUV. Do you live in an area where it snows a lot? You might need a vehicle that has all-wheel drive or that is four-wheel drive capable. If you travel long distances often you may want to look into cars with good gas mileage, or even Hybrids. Unless you are buying your next shiny new toy, I would first focus on what you need rather than what you want.
Step 4: RESEARCH AND RIDE!
Once you have narrowed your list down, test drive! You can do a lot of research at the dealership and learn a lot about a car by test driving it. Ask questions, ask LOTS of questions. If you can, find out the dealer price of the vehicle you are researching. If you decide it's the car for you, negotiate up from that figure as opposed to negotiating down from the sticker price.
Read car reviews in magazines and on the internet. Learn which cars have been given awards and high marks for safety, gas mileage, highest resale value, etc. And finally, ask around! Your family, friends, and co-workers are bound to either own the car, driven in the car, or know someone who owns the car you are researching. Don't count them out.
Step 5: PURCHASING
First, allow me to add this. If we advertise it, we'll have it when you get here. It's easy. It's honest, and it's guaranteed!! So, if you were inspired by an offer in one of our ads, whether TV, Radio, Newspaper, or Online at kellyauto.com, you can be sure that we will have that vehicle when you get here, and for the exact advertised price. That is the Kelly way!!
Take your time. Find the vehicle you want. Be confident that this will be the vehicle you want to drive for the next three to seven years. Know your financial capabilities. Don't commit to something that you are not sure you can handle. When prices and/or monthly payments are presented, be certain that you are comfortable with what it all means. Ask tons of questions. It's our pleasure to do whatever we are able to ensure your comfort in the process. I'm not trying to say it's like getting your tooth pulled, but make sure you know what you're doing.
Don't be intimidated when you are choosing to spend your money. You are the boss. Take the time to review what has been presented, then decide. There's no reason to rush into something with open questions. Satisfy all of your curiosities and inquiries and then reward yourself with that vehicle.
While there are many other factors that go into purchasing a vehicle, these are just the basic steps to prepare YOU for the process ahead. I will write more in depth about trade-ins, financing, and other aspects of the process, all with stress-free methods and tips to get the car, truck, van or SUV you really want..
Until next time, see you in the showroom!