Is now the best time to buy a car?

Buying a car is the kind of decision that you will likely have to live with for years. This means you want to plan it out and make sure you know all of your options, as well as have a plan for financing your new ride. If you aren’t sure whether the middle of a pandemic is the right time to move forward with your purchase, we have some thoughts that may help you out.

Know what you want

Before you even start pricing out your options, you need to know what your ultimate goal is. Are you buying a new or used car? Are you looking for a sedan, or a hybrid, or a ginormous SUV? Knowing where you want to wind up will give you guidance on how to get there. It’s also important to know what different types of cars offer – for instance, if you need to fit car seats in your vehicle, that may change some of your car goals.

Be prepared to distance

The automotive sales industry has not traditionally done a lot of final sales in the virtual world, but over the last few months, more virtual sales options have become available for those who prefer not to shop in person. If you do want to take a look at your potential car with your own eyes, be prepared to observe social distancing guidelines, as many car dealerships have implemented new practices and policies in response to COVID-19.

Look at your options

If you are itching to get behind the wheel of your new (at least to you) car, you may be tempted to jump on the first deal you see. But it’s important to do your research and look at all the options available. A little extra time in the beginning may very well save several extra dollars in the end. Consider making a chart or a spreadsheet to compare and contrast the different offers you see – and don’t just include the cost. List out all the benefits that may come with your car, like the warranty or even whether you can find the color you love most.

Utilize virtual services

We already talked about the ways car sales have made a large footprint on the virtual world this year, but you might be interested to know that many dealerships have set up their process to allow you to arrange for everything from financing to scheduling a test drive from the comfort of your living room. It might feel strange to buy a car this way, but rest assured that your choices aren’t diminished; you are just able to stay within your personal comfort level for the process.

Job security

Before you move forward on a car purchase, take a moment and reflect on your current job security. No one can see the future, but you can still look for warning signs that your company is about to start layoffs, or that your position may be temporarily eliminated due to the pandemic. If you can’t afford the car without your job, you’ll want to be as sure as you can that your role at work is safe for the foreseeable future.

Trade-in value

If you need a new car, it’s pretty likely that you are currently driving something. While you may not think it’s worth much, you should still look into the trade-in value of your car through a place like Kelly Blue Book to see what you can get from it. If you don’t think it will make much of a financial impact on your new car’s price, consider selling your car to someone who doesn’t mind paying a lower price in exchange for a fixer-upper.

Know your budget

Do you have a down payment saved for a car? Do you know how much you can afford in a monthly payment? Figure out your budget before you even start looking for your car in order to eliminate those that are way out of your price point. Once you know what you can spend, don’t go a penny over – no car is worth getting into debt and jeopardizing your credit.

Take someone with you

Whether you shop online or head to a dealership, it’s always good to get a second opinion from a trusted friend. Not only will this give you some valuable insight from someone you trust, but also help you stay objective and within your budget as you make your final decisions for your car.

Know financing options

If you don’t know your credit score, now is the time to find out. This will affect your financing options, and you don’t want to be surprised the day of your purchase, especially if you need a car quickly. Also, take time to research different lenders and what offers they have – that low monthly payment might look great until you realize how many years it will last. You can even take the steps to get pre-approved, so you can shop while knowing what exactly you can afford.

Look for incentives

Now more than ever, dealerships and even individual sellers are looking for ways to entice buyers. This could be a win-win for both you and the dealership, because you are likely to get a better deal for your car, while they benefit from the commissions made on the sale. Call a few dealerships or ask friends who have recently bought cars to find out what types of incentives you can expect to be offered, and to factor those into your budget and overall goals.

If you need a car, now might be the perfect time. Between the incentives being offered and the virtual options now available, you have your choice of vehicles that will fit into your budget. The key is to only spend what you can afford – which is rule you should follow even when you’re not living in a pandemic. Happy shopping!


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