How Much Car Can You Afford?
The general rule of thumb is that monthly payments for an auto loan shouldn’t be more than 20% of a car buyers’ net pay. It’s important to remember that a used vehicle will require some extra maintenance. You might need to invest in new tires, new brakes, or to refresh the car in some other way.
With that in mind, you may want to aim for a car payment that’s closer to 10% of your take-home pay. Wherever you set your target price, be sure to stick to it. The last thing you want is to be strapped with payments you can’t afford.
Find Cars in Your Area
When it’s time to start searching for cars for sale in your area, you’ll have a few good options to look into. You might find the ideal car for your needs at a franchised dealership that sells both used and new vehicles. Late-model trade-ins are often sold by these dealers. Branded dealerships also have repair facilities of their own.
Used car dealers will generally offer older cars with higher odometer readings. You’ll mostly find vehicles that are sold “as is” at these locations, although some will sell limited warranties to offer some reassurance in case of future issues. There are also private sellers who list their cars for sale online or through other means. You might get a great deal from someone selling their car on their own, but make sure to get copies of the vehicle’s service records and original purchase paperwork.
Determine a Fair Market Value for the Vehicle
After you’ve zeroed in on a few specific makes and models of vehicles, it’s time to consider a car purchase price that you will be satisfied with. Many factors come into play when considering a specific car’s value, including the year it was manufactured,
the wear and tear on a vehicle, if it’s high- or low-mileage, and whether many others are looking for a similar model. There are several ways to research fair market value. One way is to look through digital or print classified ads and scour local dealership listings, noting the prices of similar vehicles in your area. You can also tap into resources like Kelley Blue Book, which allows you to easily search for used car values online.
Don’t Forget the Vehicle History Report
When you find the used car you’re interested in, be sure to get a vehicle history report so you know exactly how the car was treated by previous owners. If there are any red flags – like if the car has been declared a total loss by an insurance company – it’s best to know early in the car shopping process.
Good options for accessing these reports online include CARFAX and Auto Check. You just need the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number to get this essential information. Most dealerships will offer these reports free of charge for cars in their inventories. Private sellers and other used car dealers will likely require you to pay for those reports.
Explore Your Financing Options
Unless you plan to pay for your used car in cash, you’ll need to finance your purchase. To get the best interest rate on your car loan, we recommend shopping around with different lenders. Once you have approval, you’ll be better equipped to stay within your price range and negotiate the final price of the car.With your financing in place, you might want to check out our guide on the best times to buy a used car. You may be surprised by your buying power during certain times of the year.
Test-Driving Is a Must
You can usually only tell if a used car is right for you by test-driving it. Getting behind the wheel and focusing on the feel of the vehicle on the road is vital. Here are a few key things to pay attention to during your test drive:
Overall comfort: Make sure you like the way the car drives and that you have plenty of room inside. Also be sure the seat and steering wheel are easily adjustable.
Visibility: Check that the rearview and side mirrors are in good condition and for blind spots.
Brakes: Brakes should be responsive and free from any concerning noises.
Signs of leaks: Look under the hood and under the car after your test drive. If you see anything leaking or smell burning oil, you know something needs to be addressed.
Tires: Visually inspect the tires to see how old they are. Get a feel for the car’s overall balance when driving as well. Combined with a vehicle history report and service records, a test drive should give you more than enough information to feel comfortable moving forward with the car buying process.
An Inspection Adds Peace of Mind
You should have a used car inspected by a mechanic you trust before buying it. When buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle from a branded dealership, the car has already been thoroughly inspected. With any other used vehicle seller, you’ll want a pre-purchase inspection.
If you don’t have a go-to technician, check out some online reviews to find a good option in your area. You’ll probably pay between $100 and $200 for the inspection. Whether the car is in great shape or any issues are found, it will be well worth the investment. If a problem pops up but you’re still interested in the car, you might be able to negotiate a lower price.
Finish the Paperwork
Once you’ve agreed to a fair price, it’s time to sign the paperwork and close the deal. If you’re buying from a branded car dealership, this process is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind that a salesperson might offer you additional service plans and extended warranty options.If you’re buying from a private party, you’ll have a few more steps to complete.
Make sure the seller transfers the car title and registration to you in the proper way. The rules that govern these transactions vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before closing the deal. Of course, you also need to make sure you have car insurance for your new purchase before you drive it home. If you don’t already have coverage, look into the best car insurance companies.
Protect Your Investment
Unless the car you’re buying is still under its manufacturer’s warranty or is a certified pre-owned vehicle with protection built in, you might want to buy an extended warranty. Our list of the top used car warranties will help you choose the best plan for your needs.
If you purchase a high-mileage vehicle or want to keep your used car well into the future, check out our list of extended warranty providers for cars over 100,000 miles.
SOME OF OUR FAVORITE FEATURES SHOULD BE IN YOUR NEW CAR IN 2023.
If one of the things on your 2023 to-do listing is to buy a new vehicle, now’s the time to begin making your listing of ought to-have functions. Even in case you recognise exactly what you definitely, really want, there might be versions in trim stages throughout similar fashions. It’s beneficial to do your studies ahead of time and find out what motors can have the bells and whistles you need. If you’re shopping for a vehicle in 2023, you’ll have your very own listing of important functions. I wish you’ll find this list helpful, too.
WHAT DO WE LIKE?
While 2023 isn’t a planned vehicle purchase 12 months for me, it by no means hurts to be in advance of factors. I polled a number of our writing personnel to look what was on their list of “gotta have it” functions. We were all (more often than not) at the identical page, and our answers reflect that we spend a top notch deal of time in our cars. We count on those niceties that make our behind-the-wheel experiences best.
Before absolutely everyone chimes in with a communication about wishes as opposed to needs, can we just not? It’s about to be 2023. Women are empowered to do a whole lot of factors, along with shopping for the auto they need to pressure. Who cares if it’s a want as opposed to a want?
Now, permit’s knock out that listing.
My subsequent automobile might be a plug-in hybrid. I like the idea of contributing to a greener environment. I’ve check-pushed enough PHEVs to realize that this works for me and will in the long run store cash on gasoline with out growing our electric powered invoice (a commonplace fantasy.)
If I turned into certain in which I turned into going to be residing in five years, I would possibly recollect a totally electric automobile. For now, I’ll continue to watch their presence on the car scene.
APPLE CAR PLAY/ANDROID AUTO MAKES TECH EASY
Fortunately, this is a characteristic that’s smooth to discover in maximum new motors due to the fact automakers have stuck on to the reality that We. Want. This. I recently had a totally naked-bones rental automobile that did not have Apple Car Play. I didn’t pretty realize what to do with myself on a experience from Green Bay to Beloit, Wisconsin. It turned into a adorable drive, but I 10/10 don’t advise it with out CarPlay or Android Auto.
Even though built-in navigational systems and other infotainment gadget capabilities are becoming extra advanced, Apple CarPlay is wherein a number of us are cushty. We manage our lifestyles via apps on our phones. Getting in our vehicle is an extension of that. When I climb behind the wheel, I need my familiar maps, my cope with books, Spotify, and Audible. Anything less than that is…nicely, less than and not what I need.
You can see how these systems paintings and the difference between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay here:
Related: Apple Car Play and Android Auto: How to Get the Most Popular In-Car Phone Systems
WIRELESS CHARGING IS A MUST-HAVE
My present day vehicle has Apple Car Play (because that changed into a must in 2019 when I offered my automobile and remains a need to now), but wi-fi charging wasn’t as broadly disbursed as a function only some years ago. I’ve take a look at driven a car with wireless charging pads, and I could insist on that function for my next vehicle. While plugging my cellphone into my devoted car cable works best, wi-fi charging is where we’re going. Cables can fail. We can lose them or neglect to put them in our bags, or one child forgets his cable and then the bickering commences. Please say that occurs for your car, too.
Interestingly, some automakers are putting charging pads that won’t allow your cellphone overheat, so preserve a watch out for that.
IF I’M BUYING A CAR IN 2023 I WANT ALL THE CHARGING PORTS
I have a list of things you can’t have too lots of. If you can see my closet or my make-up drawer, you’d say footwear and lipsticks, which isn’t wrong, but more than one charging ports in a automobile are a huge deal for me. I want at the least one USB per seat inside the car due to the fact all of us has at least one tool. I additionally like at least two electric shops, useful for some thing from keeping a pc charged to tailgating.
MORE CHARGE PORTS THAN PASSENGERS? 2023 WAGONEER L AND GRAND WAGONEER L FULL SIZE SUV: L MEANS MORE ROOM AND MORE MUSCLE IN THIS THREE ROW SUV
ALSO, ALL THE CUPHOLDERS, PLEASE
At a minimal, a cupholder for every passenger and a place to put a water bottle or tumbler at the interior of each door. I usually have a water when I’m on the go, but I like having space to position a espresso or some thing else, too. Two tween boys are my ordinary backseat passengers. If they don’t have an area to place their liquids, they’ll toss their bottles on the floor or the seat, normally inflicting spills.
The man who bought us our automobile kind of snickered at me after I counted cupholders in vehicles we were test-using. We told him we’d achieved our studies on what become below the hood. We also knew exactly what became in his stock. The very last decisions were made on what changed into going to be realistic and snug for our normal automobile. And yes, it came right down to cupholders and charging ports. Don’t permit all people make you feel stupid for trying what makes your lifestyles easier.
CUPHOLDERS, CUPHOLDERS EVERYWHERE: CHRYSLER PACIFICA HYBRID: EIGHT REASONS TO LOVE IT
I live in South Texas, which means that I’m likely to apply my air conditioner at some point at some point of all twelve months of the 12 months. We have periodic cold spells and cold winter mornings – our 2021 freeze made country wide news, so all of us understand it’s now not warm here all the time – but for the most element, it’s hot, heat, or genuinely warm.
My vehicle has both heated and cooling seats. Although the cool setting gets extra of a exercising than the heat one, both are a ought to for me. I actually have a heated steerage wheel, which is best to have for me. I don’t get a ton of use out of it, however there are the ones honestly cold mornings once I don’t have time to heat up my vehicle. The heated steerage wheel is available in on hand. And once I say honestly cold mornings, I mean some thing beneath 60. If I lived in addition north, a heated steerage wheel might be non-negotiable. My pals that stay in less warm climates trust me.
NOW EVERYONE CAN HAVE HEATED SEATS: 2022 LINCOLN NAVIGATOR REVIEW: THIS BIG BOY WILL WOW YOU
PUMP UP THE JAMS
If you’ve never driven a automobile with upgraded audio, then you definitely won’t understand what you’re missing. If you spend a variety of time on your vehicle and love your tunes, you might want to observe alternatives applications or aftermarket enhancements that give you better sound. “I love my rock, and a car that doesn’t have a brilliant stereo and amazing audio system is a deal stopper,” says A Girl’s Guide to Cars contributor and frequent street tripper Adeina Anderson.
I spent extra time inside the automobile in 2022 than I actually have in preceding years – the pandemic has turned me into more of a street tripper than I was once, and my daughter moved from Spain to Florida – so that is a function I might look greater intently at if I had been buying a automobile in 2023.
PREMIUM SOUND MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE: LISTEN UP, EVERYONE! REVEL SPEAKERS SHOWS US HOW TO GET THE BEST SOUND IN THE CAR
LEATHER OR LEATHERETTE SEATS
“No material interiors ever,” firmly says A Girls Guide to Cars founder and Editor in Chief Scotty Reiss. I’m with Scotty in this one. Although fabric interiors are inexpensive, leather-based seats are less complicated to hold and have a better resale/change value. Leather or leather-based-like seats may be wiped clean and are extra long lasting than material. “And they don’t soak up all of the smells to your car, like sweaty soccer gamers or spilled Gatorade,” Scotty points out.
The drawback to leather seats is they keep heat and may be painful to sit down on with bare legs whilst it’s hot outdoor. This can be without difficulty mitigated with a sunshade, seat pad, or just waiting a couple of minutes to take a seat down.
LEATHER SEATS DON’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE: FIVE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE 2022 KIA SORENTO PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC 3 ROW SUV
I’ve never had a vehicle with faraway start, but I don’t forget the primary time I found out that characteristic existed. I was residing in Illinois and going to lunch with a coworker on a cold, snowy day. She walked over to the window of our shared workplace and aimed her key fob at her vehicle within the parking lot.
“Just getting things warmed up,” she smiled at me. “Let’s move.”
My mind become blown, and I’ve desired this feature ever because. Remote begin is becoming an an increasing number of common alternative on more recent automobiles. That stated, it’s easy sufficient to get an oem upgrade. Even in case you’re now not shopping for a automobile in 2023, that is nonetheless a function you could add. If you want to warmth or cool your car a chunk before getting internal, this is a reachable shortcut. It’s additionally best for a parent with younger children who have greater steps to follow while moving into the auto.
Related: The excellent family motors for mothers – And it’s now not just about the kids
Contributors Danyel Buie and Kim Smith both listed a 360-degree digital camera as a concern characteristic for buying a vehicle in 2023. This generation initiatives a view as visible from above your vehicle and the surrounding vicinity. If there have been a drone flying at once above your car, this camera projects what it might see. I have this option on my vehicle, and it facilitates immensely when parking my automobile or backing into a space. It permits me to accurate a bad parking activity even as I’m nonetheless in the back of the wheel without having to get out to visually confirm a few questionable parking. It happens.
I additionally certainly like the digital camera characteristic some motors need to see into the second and 0.33-row seats. I examined a Chrysler Pacifica minivan that had this option and think it’s a tremendous addition for younger households. As a mom to 12-12 months-olds, I in reality don’t need to recognize what’s going on lower back there.
THIS TRUCK HAS CRAZY GOOD CAMERAS: 2022 GMC HUMMER EV REVIEW: IS IT SILLY TO LIKE AN ELECTRIC TRUCK THIS MUCH?
MAKING A LIST
While my must-haves might not be the same as yours, it’s vital to list out what features you can’t live with out. It’s easy within the vehicle-shopping for process to forget about a number of the things a good way to enhance existence in the car. During a take a look at power, it’s clever to test not simply the performance but additionally features which you’ve never had earlier than. Maybe one or two will become your new need to-have.
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