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Home > Financial Resource Center Home > Lease vs. Buy > Researching Your New Car

Buying a new vehicle doesn’t need to be an overwhelming experience. Just do your homework before you visit the dealership, and you’ll be prepared to find the car you want—not just the car they want to sell you. Before you go to the dealership, you should do the following:

  • Determine if you can afford a new car. The total of all your debt shouldn't be more than 40 percent of your monthly take-home pay.
  • Shop for financing first. A credit union tends to lend more money than a bank and generally offers more favorable rates. Credit unions also have arrangements with local dealerships, offering member-only sales.
  • Decide exactly what you want this car to do for you. How many people will you be carrying? What options do you want in order to be comfortable? Know exactly what you want before you set foot into the dealership and stick to it.
  • Research dealerships. Make sure that you find one close to you. If your vehicle needs service, it will be much easier to establish a relationship with the service manager if the location is convenient.
  • Know the car you want to buy before you go shopping. The Internet is an excellent way to find information. There are numerous sites specifically for supplying consumers with information on the make and model of the car you want to buy. Most sites include information such as dealer price, equipment listings, specifications, safety features, and warranty details.
  • Find out how much insurance is going to cost for the new vehicle. If you can afford the car, but you can’t afford the insurance, then you should purchase a different vehicle.
  • Try to determine the actual value of your trade-in. Use the market guide books for an estimate, and then visit various used car lots to get a bid on the car.