With our helpful guide to buying new or used, auto loans & insurance rates, and car dealership negotiation, you can make buying a car in 2024 a success 

Car Buying is a Big Decision, here are Tips to Ease the Process 

Salesman talking to a client
Salesman talking to a client

Buying a car is an exciting endeavor. It can also be stressful if you’re not prepared for the process. And in 2024 shopping for a car can be a daunting process due to higher interest rates, dealer markups, and a bunch of new cars entering the market.

We’ve compiled a few helpful tips that can make the experience a little bit easier. We’ll cover whether to buy new or used, some basic car dealership negotiation tips, and info on auto loans & insurance rates.

Figure Out What Type of Car You Need 

Car checklist
Car checklist

The first thing you need to do is get an idea of what you want and need. If you have something specific in mind, that is great and will make your research process quicker. Putting together a list of things you desire in your next vehicle will help you narrow down your search.

  • Do you need a certain number of seats?
  • Do you need something affordable and efficient?
  • Perhaps you need something that can handle towing occasionally.

Think about the attributes that are important to you as a starting point. There are lots of ways to research vehicles that meet your criteria and carsforsale.com is full of reviews and comparisons to help you focus on a couple of your top choices.

Figure Out Your Car Budget and Financing 

Used car dealership
Used car dealership

Next, you need to consider your budget and preference for new or used. If your budget is tight, buying a used car is generally cheaper. However, the used car market has been hot lately, and popular models that are only a couple years old can sometimes sell for just as much as a brand-new vehicle.

To save some significant money, you might have to look at something a bit older or higher mileage. Finding a good used car is easy these days thanks to a wealth of knowledge from reviews, convenient vehicle history reports, and forums.

We recommend figuring out financing ahead of time. Unfortunately, interest rates have climbed over the last few years, making financing more expensive. Getting pre-approval means that you are gaining a better understanding of how much the car will cost you every month.

Calculating rates
Calculating rates

If you’re looking for the best rate possible, you might want to check with your current bank or a credit union. They often have slightly lower rates than dealerships, but they can be a little pickier about approving a loan, especially on a used vehicle.

You can also set up a financing option at the dealership. This is convenient as the whole process happens at the dealership, but it might result in a higher interest rate. We have a helpful guide for selecting the right financing path.

Create Your List of Potential Cars  

Online car research
Online car research

If you’ve determined that a new car is right for you, spend some time on the manufacturer’s website. A little time browsing the trims and options available will give you a sense of which trim is going to best suit you.

Maybe the basic trim provides everything you need and will save you some money. Maybe you want the top of the line with the fanciest leather and the latest technology. Or maybe something in between will be the sweet spot for you.

Online configurators can help you visualize the different color options, interior choices, and more. You’re going to be spending a good chunk of money, so take your time and be picky here.

Test Drive Each Car You are Interested In 

Couple test driving car
Couple test driving car

Once you’ve located a list of cars you’re interested in, set up a test drive. Test driving a new car is a quick way to see what it’s like to drive and operate. And you know that whether you buy one off the lot or order a specific trim and color, they’re going to drive the same.

Test driving a used car is a crucial step as it gives you a chance to inspect the car, get a feel for how it drives, and determine if the listing matches up to reality. And remember, you should test drive every used car you’re seriously considering as each one will have lived through different owners who will have treated each one differently, for better or worse.

  • Keep an eye out for dents, rust, and stains.
  • Listen as you drive for any unusual clunks, grinding, or rattles.
  • See if the car drives straight as you drive and find a safe place to test the brakes.
  • Take a sniff around the interior for unpleasant odors.

Only when you get to experience a car in real life can you really grasp if it’s worth buying. Don’t skip this step and don’t be afraid to pass up a car that doesn’t feel right.

Negotiate Your Deal  

Salesman giving new car keys to customer
Salesman giving new car keys to customer

That brings us to car dealership negotiation. You’ve already done some online research to figure out what vehicle you want. Again, don’t skip the test drive, even for a new car. This is especially important if there are different engine or transmission options to choose from. Once you have finalized the version you want, you need to understand the manufacturer suggested retail price, or MSRP. This is the price the manufacturer sets for the car.

In today’s market, some cars can be challenging to secure as dealer inventories can be low and you may have to wait a few months for your car to arrive. As a buyer, you must figure out if the upcharge is reasonable and worth it to you given the demand and availability for that vehicle.

Car research
Car research

There are dealers that don’t charge more than MSRP, so seek those out if you can by calling around. Also understand that you’re unlikely to buy a new vehicle below MSRP unless there are some major incentives offered.

We have rounded up a handy list of new car incentives to help navigate the best deals. If you’re shopping for an electric vehicle, the federal government and some states offer EV rebates or tax breaks, so be sure to see what you qualify for in your location. If you have a trade in, read up on our comprehensive guide for how to trade in your car.

Figure Out Your Insurance Rate 

Car Insurance policy
Car Insurance policy

Insurance is the final piece of the puzzle and you should have this arranged before you drive off the lot. If you already insure a vehicle, a good place to start is with a quote from your current insurance company.

Depending on the age or type of car, getting quotes from a variety of insurers might turn up a good deal. Keep in mind that new vehicles and more expensive or premium vehicles cost more to insure. So, make sure you’re considering the cost of insurance in your overall budget.

Find Your Next Great Car Here 

Happy couple with new car
Happy couple with new car

Carsforsale.com is a great place to locate your next vehicle. We have tons of used car listings, great reviews of new vehicles, and a variety of helpful guides. We wish you luck in search for your next car!

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Jim Carlson

For Jim Carlson, a passion for cars goes back to riding in his uncle's 1971 Corvette! That established a lifelong interest in cars that hasn't subsided. Whether he's detailing a car, going for a drive, or walking through a car show, Jim takes the time to appreciate what makes a car 'go.' He’s especially fond of sports cars. Jim's reviews and articles are filled with a broad knowledge about cars, but he also puts to use his fiscal expertise, thanks to a Bachelor's Degree in financial management from the University of Minnesota, Morris.

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