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When it’s time to replace your car, should you go with a brand new model or a “new-to-you” used vehicle? Do your homework and arm yourself with information to ensure you make the right choice and don’t get taken for a ride.

Why Buy New? Maintaining a used car often costs more money, especially if it is no longer covered by a warranty. Having your used car in the shop more often also costs you time.

Why Buy Used? A new car can lose 15 to 30 percent of its value just in the first year of driving.

Shopping Tips

Whether you’re looking for a new or a used car, start with these steps.

Use the internet to your advantage. Research different makes, models and years so you can compare features and narrow down your choices before you do any serious shopping. Read consumer reviews, too.

Know what you need before you start looking and consider your lifestyle:

  • Do you have children or will you have children in the next year or two?
  • Do you travel often, making gas mileage important?
  • Do you travel with a lot of stuff, meaning you need a lot of space?
  • Do you need enough power to tow a boat or motor home?

Find what you can afford. Come up with an amount you can comfortably spend and stick with it. One of MAX’s online auto loan calculators makes this easy. Some cars cost more than others to insure, so remember to add that to the purchase price. Factor in the car’s fuel efficiency and other maintenance costs too.

Pay for it and protect it. When you find the car you want, need and can afford, check out MAX’s great auto financing options. And give MAX’s customizable auto insurance options a look too. 

New Car Shopping Tips

Here’s how to get the most out of buying a new car.

Get pre-approved for a car loan. Dealerships offer financing, but you’ll probably find a better rate elsewhere.

Know before you go. If you’re trading your old car in on a new one, find its fair value using a source like Kelly Blue Book so you can confidently negotiate with the dealership. You can also find the dealer’s cost for the specific car you are considering and the average price that others are paying using sources like Consumer Reports. This will help you know how to determine what you’re willing to pay.

Do a test drive. Never buy a car without getting behind the wheel.

Shop around. Don’t start the process with the first place you look. Check other dealerships that have the car you want and compare prices. And remember to consider dealerships in nearby cities too. 

Dissect dealership lingo. Watch out for add-ons that you don’t really need, things like paint sealant or window etching of the VIN number. Do a little homework to find a list of the unnecessary extras often offered on new cars.

Used Car Shopping Tips

Here’s how to get the most out of buying a used car.

Know what the car you want should cost. Once you’ve identified a specific car, use a source like Kelly Blue Book to find the retail value of the car.

Give it a good, long look. Make sure your carefully inspect every inch of the car you’re considering. If a door or the trunk won’t close properly or the hood is slightly off to one side, the car may have been wrecked and suffered frame damage. Also be wary of rust. If you have any serious concerns, ask if you can have your mechanic check the car. Next, take a test drive and pay close attention to the experience. Ask yourself:

  • How comfy are the seats?
  • Can I see well out of the back window?
  • Is the interior too noisy?
  • Is there enough legroom/headroom?

Also, always check the car’s service history and background. CARFAX can provide this information for less than $40. 

Know who you’re dealing with. If the car you want, need and can afford is not being sold by a dealership, make sure you are comfortable with the individual selling the car. Red flags include: 

  • Vague answers to specific questions.
  • Any request for money upfront.
  • A price that seems far too good to be true.
  • No service history.

Negotiate and haggle. If you found a few dings or other minor cosmetic issues during your inspection, use them to try and get the price reduced. Even if the car is seemingly perfect, most sellers expect you to offer below asking price and often have some wiggle room built in.