1. Know your shopping style
Buying a new car is a big decision. When you decide that it is time to do so, don’t rush into it. Take your time figuring out what you want, and the style of shopper that you are.
Value Shopper: You want the price and value to hit a sweet spot. You’re not worried about paying a few more dollars if you can see the added value. Check the value of your current vehicle using the Canadian Black Book Trade-In Estimator.
Image Shopper: Looks are the most important to you. Does the car project the image that you are looking for?
Methodical Shopper: You enjoy studying every last bit of every vehicle to find the perfect fit for you.
Safety Conscious Shopper: You want a vehicle that is safe and reliable for you, and your family.
Deal Shopper: You want the best price available on the market. You’ll find a few vehicles you will buy and then hunt for the best deal. Success is knowing you got a good vehicle at a great price
2. Mark sure your vehicle fits your lifestyle
The next step is figuring out what kind of vehicle fits your lifestyle. Are you a weekend warrior looking to go biking, and skiing every weekend? Or are you looking for fuel economy for your daily commute. Maybe you need a truck large enough to tow 8,000lbs. Consider your needs and must have’s for your next vehicle.
3. Do your homework
Research online and visit manufacturer and dealership websites. Find comparisons, read review websites, blogs, and YouTube videos to see what will be your best fit.
4. Narrow down your shopping list
There are hundreds of models to choose from. Start with your budget range, then move to shape (SUV, truck, sedan) and then create a must have list. Compare online and choose a few options, even if you have a clear #1 you will want a backup plan in case the #1 choice does not live up to expectations in person.
5. Dealership Selection
Where, oh where to go? While location is a consideration, it shouldn’t be your only determining factor. Ask friends, look for reviews online, do some investigation on the dealership site, and even social media. Reputation is important, but keep in mind to look at the majority of reviews, not simply one or two with a negative experience. Look for professionalism, honesty, and quality service.
6. Get the most out of your test drive
Take your time! Go through a check-list of steps before, during, and after driving the vehicle. Take the sales guy with you, or keep a list of questions to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for a 2nd test drive with or without the sales guy. Checklist:
Ride Comfort: Is the ride smooth or stiff? Are you getting bumped around too much? Do you like how it feels sitting in the driver’s seat?
Noise: Cars sound different, is this one extra noisy and will drive you crazy in a few weeks? If you are a highway driver, make sure you test at the higher speeds.
Power/Acceleration: Do a stop and start multiple times, does the vehicle blast off the line to slow or maybe even too fast? For highway drivers test the acceleration from a high speed to see how fast it can accelerate when passing someone.
Braking: Does the vehicle stop on a dime? Test the steering while you are braking; you need to feel that you control the vehicle.
Handling: How well does the car take a corner? Do you feel comfortable with the steering wheel placement – adjust it to your liking, this is YOUR test drive. Can you park the car easily? Maybe the car has automated parallel parking for you. Is there a backup camera and sensors? If so, test them out.
Technology: Do you want a little, or a lot? Is navigation important? Do you want to sync your phone via Bluetooth to the vehicle? Base models will have some bells and whistles, but upgrade packages should include everything you are looking for.
7. Sell or trade current vehicle
You likely will not receive as much money for your trade as you may get by selling it privately. But you also don’t have to safety the vehicle, detail it, advertise it and go through the selling process. The dealer has costs to add to your trade in. Getting it ready for sale (or auction), storing it in inventory, advertising and detailing. Check the Canadian Black Book value to make sure you are getting fair value.
8. Calculate what you can afford
A general rule of thumb is to take 10% of your gross income for vehicle payments. The price of the vehicle can change depending on if you are financing, leasing, or paying in cash. With longer term financing, you may be able to stretch the budget with lower payments. With cash however, you may be able to get a better total price in the long run.
9. Check warranty
Manufacturer warranties vary and are typically an area of differentiation. Make sure to read the fine print, but when purchasing any car, the safe choice is opting in for the extended warranty. No one wants that expensive repair out of nowhere.
10. Cash or Finance
We live in a cash flow society. All options given to customers now include financing. Some people do just want to pay cash though. With rates as low as 0%, financing does make sense, but others would rather just pay the money and be done with it. It’s a really personal choice, and will come down to your own financial situation.
Once you have completed this checklist, and made sure to check out the value of your current vehicle using Canadian Black Book, it’s time to head on over to the dealership to purchase your new (or used) vehicle!