Buying a New Car
By John Linden
Buying a new car means different things to different people but almost everybody will agree it’s a high-dollar purchase that requires some research before the buy. In most cases, a new car means buying one right of the lot as the first and only owner of the vehicle. For others, new means new to them although it isn’t necessarily straight-from-the-factory new.
There was a time when used (or pre-owned) cars were generally considered the more economical approach to new car ownership but the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program made some changes still affecting the market today. Officially named the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) Act, Cash for Clunkers encouraged car owners to upgrade to a new car that met higher fuel economy standards. Rebates as high as $4,500 were used as incentive to enhance the trade.
It worked. Almost $3 billion in rebates were paid to people buying close to 700,000 new cars during the program’s lifespan. The old cars were not returned to the re-sale market; they were junked.
By removing so many used cars from the market, those still remaining now are valued higher than they were before. The better the condition, the higher the resale value. These higher prices in today’s used-car market compete pretty closely with the cost of a straight-off-the-showroom-floor new car so it may pay off to explore the merits of both - new and used - when shopping for a new car.
The first step in buying a new car is the hunt. This may be the most fun part. What kind, what color, what accessories are all the easy decisions, based more on personal preference and style than on hard-line economics. Comparison shopping is a must.
We all know to kick the tires and check under the hood but most of us don’t know how to interpret what we see when we do those things. Fortunately, there is a wealth of data at our disposal right here on the internet that helps explain the finer points of the hunt and will guide us to make the wisest decision.
These tips, calculators, and worksheets all come from reputable sources that do not sell cars or car-related goods or services. You can trust them because they have nothing to gain from your purchase.
The business part of buying a new car is probably the most intimidating. It’s loaded with terms and details that we don’t often encounter. It’s where the money talk gets serious, too. Negotiating and bargaining with confidence can save money, maybe even thousands of dollars, so the more you know before you begin, the less likely you’ll be to clam up and break out in a stuttering cold sweat in the heat of the moment.
Each state has different rules and regulations for buying cars, registering them, inspecting them, and keeping them legal in every way. Some of these regulations add to the overall cost of buying a new car so please check with the state agencies that regulate the automobile selling industry in your state.
Fortunately, the big bucks are needed at or right after the title to the new car changes hands but car expenses do not stop there. Cars are probably the most expensive item in your household to operate. Maintenance, gas mileage, and commuting conditions are expenses that never go away. Do some research on the ownership aspect of a new car during the hunt stage so there won’t be any unpleasant surprises once a car is yours.
There’s almost nothing that feels as good as driving a new car. Keep the good vibes flowing by doing as much research as possible before the buy and you won’t just feel like the king of the road later, you’ll own the road!