Beginner's Buyer's Guide: New Car Buying Tips

Written by Justin Pritchard on .

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WE OFFER SIX HELPFUL TIPS TO CONSIDER AHEAD OF VISITING THE NEW CAR MARKETPLACE

Selecting and buying a new car is an experience as unique as your individual needs, budget, lifestyle and tastes. As a result, when it’s time to hit the market in search of your first new car (or perhaps your first new car in ages), there’s no one-size-fits-all solution on how to do it properly, and no single list or how-to guide that’s suitable for everyone.

However, bearing in mind some important tips can help the new car shopper decrease stress and confusion along the way. Here are our six tips to keep in mind ahead of your new car shopping endeavours.

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FOCUS
It’s best to start shopping with a good idea of the features you need, the sorts of traits that are important to you, and a few key competitors to test drive against one another. That all starts with determining the type(s) of vehicle you’re after.

So, don’t be this guy: “I want a hatchback. I want to spend $15,000. I like the grille on this car. Should I get a pickup truck? I want to spend $27,000. I don’t like hatchbacks. What about a sports car? Oooh, that new Fusion looks nice!”

You’ll want to get educated on your options, and there are many. Read reviews. Visit online owner forums. Check out the model(s) you like on YouTube.

Hitting dealer lots with a fairly focused idea of what you’re after is a great way to avoid wasting time and becoming frustrated.

You’ll also want to check out the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) website, for a look at your rights as a shopper, and the rules and regulations around what’s allowed – and what isn’t – when it comes to price advertising and additional dealer fees.

DON’T RUSH
Buying a car on your lunch break is a great way to wind up with a car you probably won’t love. Plan ahead, take your time, and only visit a dealer for a test drive when you’ve got time to do it properly. A good test drive should take a half-hour or more, and if you’re strongly considering the model in question, you may want to test drive it more than once over the period of a few days or weeks. Schedule car-shopping endeavours into your calendar when you won’t be rushed. Want to have a look at some new cars in private? Visit a dealer after-hours and browse the lot.

PRIORITIZE
Make a solid, stick-to-it list of features and attributes your new ride needs to have. What’s important to you? All-wheel drive? Blind spot monitoring? High-performance Xenon lights for nighttime driving confidence? A lengthy powertrain warranty?

Write down your price limit, as well as your priority features and attributes, to help you stay focused. Go over your list with sales representatives, ensuring you’re test driving a model that hits as many marks as possible. This list is important: bring it with you, and insist on seeing a model that delivers on the listed items.

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THE TEST DRIVE
Consider calling the dealer ahead of time and scheduling a test drive appointment to avoid waiting. Before you set off, start with a full check of how you mesh with the vehicle’s cabin, systems and functions. Try the navigation. Pair your phone via Bluetooth. Fold down the rear seats and see if there’s enough room for your favourite ladder.

The test drive is fun and informative, but there’s more to it than just the driving. Ask how long you can drive the car for: you’ll want to drive it in town, on the highway, on some rough roads and in a parking lot, as a bare minimum, to see how it responds in different situations.

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THE SMALL STUFF
Does the vehicle have enough cupholders? Will your spouse have enough headroom? How does it ride on a rough road? Is there room at hand for smaller items to be kept organized? Are there enough power outlets?

Think of your lifestyle, the people and pets, the things you’ll use your car to transport, and how you need it to work for you in real life.

Asking for a second test drive to confirm all of this – and refresh your memory on the model in question – is a good idea, too, as you narrow down your list of potential candidates. Bring the kids, the spouse, or a friend or two along for the ride, because often an extra set of eyes can reveal something you may miss.

THE EXTRAS
You’re about to seal the deal, and it’s up-sell time. Your wallet and bank account are already open, and your sales rep will be ready to pounce with extended warranties, add-on upholstery and finish protection, rust-proofing and more.

Keep a few points in mind here. First, most add-ons don’t need to be purchased on the spot, so take some literature away, read up, and decide if the extra cost is worth it before deciding. Second, when it comes to extended warranty coverage, consider the cost of the warranty, versus the cost of putting that money aside in your own bank account toward repairs, and keeping it if none are required.

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