Buying a car can be a difficult process, especially if you are a first time buyer. The following tips will help you prepare for this important acquisition. Whether you are thinking of buying a new or used vehicle, make sure you are purchasing a vehicle that suits your needs. Take some time to do a little research including price comparison and budget planning.

Below are some basic tips, for more information please review our resources/links.

Tips for Buying a NEW Vehicle
Evaluate your needs and financial situation

Know what types of vehicles will meet your budget and needs. Do some preliminary research online or in the newspapers. Talk to your bank, credit union and/or dealer to get information about their terms and rates.

 

Find a dealership

Talk with friends and co-workers who have purchased a vehicle recently to find out the names of some reliable car dealerships in your area. Finding a dealership close to home is convenient if you ever need to have repairs done. Please contact VFC for a list of registered dealers in your area.

Don’t buy on impulse!

Look around and do some comparative shopping. Take your time and don’t necessarily purchase the first vehicle you see.

Get price quotes from several dealers

Compare prices and find out if the amounts quoted are the prices before or after any rebates are deducted.

Inspect and test-drive several vehicles

How does the car handle? Does it accelerate well? Test the amenities, try the power windows, locks, adjust the seats and seatbelts, turn on the air conditioner and heater, test the stereo, tape/CD player etc. Walk around the vehicle to look for body damage.

Read the warranty carefully

If you are thinking of purchasing a warranty make sure you know its terms and conditions before you make the purchase.

Verify the total cost of the vehicle

Before you sign the contract, you should know how many payments you will need to make, and the amount of each payment. All charges should be clearly shown on the contract.

Be alert!

Once you sign the contract, you own the vehicle. Be sure that you are making the right decision before signing anything.

Tips for Buying a USED Vehicle

You can get a good used car for less money than you would have to spend on a new one. Many makes, models, features and options that may be out of your price range in the new car category might be within reach when you shop for a used vehicle.

Evaluate your needs and financial situation

Know how much money you can spend on your vehicle. Prepare a budget to find out what you can afford on a monthly basis. Then you can figure out what kinds of cars fit your budget.

What is a fair price?

Price comparison will help you determine a fair price, but you can also refer to a number of online resources to identify current market values.

Ask about the maintenance history of the vehicle

Be sure to ask if there have been any major repairs from accidents. If there is a warranty on the vehicle, ask for a copy and review it carefully. Also inquire about the availability of parts and service, if the vehicle is imported or a less popular model, parts and service could be more expensive.

Deposits

Do not leave a deposit unless you intend to complete the transaction. Your deposit may be forfeited if you do not take delivery. Once you sign the contract, you own the vehicle. Be sure that you are making the right decision before signing anything.

Vehicle Inspection

When purchasing a used vehicle it’s especially important to inspect the vehicle. Here are some things you should look for when looking at the vehicle exterior, interior and the engine.

Exterior:

  • Paint – Ask the seller if the car has been repainted and, if so, why, check for scratches.
  • Rust – Examine the car thoroughly for signs of rust.
  • Windshield/Windows – Check for holes, cracks or serious scratches.
  • Tires – Check all four tires and compare the treads for wear. Are all tires the same make? Check to see if there is a spare tire.

Interior:

  • Overall Appearance – Is the interior clean? Is the wear reasonable for the vehicle age?
  • Seats/Belts – Front seats should slide back and forth smoothly. Make sure that all seat belts work properly.
  • Pedals – Accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals will show some signs of wear if the car is a few years old.
  • Instruments – Make sure all instruments, gauges, knobs, buttons, and other controls are in place and functioning.
  • Features – Test all the features including the stereo, antenna, speakers, heater, defrosters, defoggers, air conditioner, power mirrors, door locks, cigarette lighter, horn, emergency brake, and all latch releases.
  • Lights – Check all lights including dashboard, low and high beam headlights, parking lights, brake lights, fog lights, glove compartment and map light, dome lights, trunk light, hazard lights, side lights, license plate light and turn signals.

Engine and exhaust:

  • Leaks – Look under the front and back of the car to see if there are any fresh-looking fluids on the pavement.
  • Under the hood – A dirty engine is normal. Look for any signs of fresh, shiny oil or other wet spots.
  • Exhaust – The smoke coming from the exhaust pipe should be barely visible or slightly white in appearance