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    When buying a new car, you want to know everything about it, from how you shop for it, to what you can afford. Before you begin looking at cars, it is important to understand what you can afford on a reasonable budget, as well as whether you want to pay for the vehicle with cash, get a loan, or arrange to rent. Before heading into a dealership, make sure that you get a good idea of what you can afford to pay for a new vehicle every month. It is best to really nail down exactly how you plan on paying for your vehicle before heading down to the dealership to purchase it.

    Negotiate on the car price before discussing financing, or trade-in value, if you have any. At a minimum, research your cars trade-in price and negotiate a maximum possible price for that. Before you accept the dealers offer to trade-in the vehicle, shop around for a car to make sure you are getting a fair price.

    Or, you could swap in your old vehicle at a dealership you are planning on buying a new car from. In many cases, a dealership will even take the buyers old car on trade-in — with used-vehicle prices being so high, this can be a great advantage.

    Since the private seller does not need to turn a profit, you may be able to get a better deal on your used car that way than if you were buying it at the dealership. Depending on what vehicle you are looking at, you may have a choice to go through a dealer, an online retailer, or a private seller.

    Once you get a feel for what you are looking for, begin checking out dealer stock and online vehicle buying sites to find a good fit. Once you narrow down your options according to priorities and your budget, you should create a shortlist of two to three cars that match your descriptions of needs.

    You might have the car already in mind – but set your budget, do your research, and compare quotes before buying. With a sense of what you can afford, and a car that is a good fit for you, it is time to collect quotes from dealers.

    If you spend some time researching prices online before visiting the dealership, you will get a better sense of what competitively priced cars should be. One of the best things to know before going to a dealership is a range of what is reasonable prices for the cars you are considering. Once you have found a car that you would like to purchase, it is time to pay a visit to a dealer.

    If dealers in the area where you live do not carry the vehicle you are looking for, then check with dealers in other areas. Dealership salespeople often ask whether you are planning on trading another vehicle and whether you are looking to also secure credit through the dealership.

    Even if you do have a pre-approved loan for paying for a car, the finance manager at the dealership might suggest that you can beat out the terms on your loan. If you are buying a new or used vehicle, you are likely going to need a car loan. Most people either get a auto loan, or, increasingly, choose to lease the vehicle.

    Getting pre-qualified or preapproved is not required for buying a new car, but setting up your financing allows you to shop around to ensure that you are getting a good car loan. It is smart to get pre-approved for a car loan, as it simplifies the process of buying a car and puts you in a stronger position with the dealer. Getting preapproved helps you shop around for the best interest rates, which could save you money on your new vehicle.

    Getting preapproved is a more in-depth process, but ultimately, you should have a more detailed offer of credit that you can utilize as you shop for a new vehicle. If you choose to finance through a dealer, and get approved for the loan, you may want to complete both your loan paperwork and your car sales documents simultaneously. A trade-in involves applying for a car loan – if you are financing a new vehicle – and, if approved, signing paperwork to buy the new vehicle. If you are financing the vehicle, make sure you bring information about your prior auto loans.

    Doing so will help you understand how much you will be able to borrow for your new vehicle, as well as the interest rates and terms of the loan that you are getting. It helps if you accurately and honestly determine how much your current car is worth, what kind of down payment you are comfortable making, and what is a reasonable amount that you can afford to pay each month.

    Look at your trade-in value for your current vehicle, if it is available, and how much you can afford to pay toward the down payment. Make sure that you have already researched your current cars value online, so that you will know if you are being offered a fair price when you negotiate your trade-in. If you are buying a used car, be sure to find out the cars complete history, including how many owners it has had, and any accidents.

    If you are planning on financing a new vehicle, remember there are many prospective lenders. If you are going to get a car loan to pay for your new vehicle, make sure to shop around and compare your options with as many lenders as you can to ensure that you get a great deal. Most people will receive financing straight from the dealership, but smart buyers shop around to find the best financing options.

    It is always best to set up financing through your bank or credit union before heading into a dealership to see cars, as this gives you a baseline to compare against with dealership financing terms, which may or may not be the best deal. Doing your own research and comparisons can help you identify fair prices for the cars you want, as well as determine financing offers – all of which, taken together, could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. If you know exactly the type of car you want, you might want to consider buying a vehicle online, via retailers such as CarMax, Carvana, or TrueCar.

    Once you determine what you are willing to spend on a car, you will have to decide what kind of car best fits your needs. If you and the salesperson have reached a deal, you are ready to move forward with buying a vehicle.

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