When your old car finally bites the dust, the search for a new car begins. You'll probably test drive several different makes and models in your search, but once you locate the car of your dreams, it will all become worth the trouble. You can buy and register a new car with very little hassle if you know what you're doing.
Conduct your research. Before visiting dealerships it's important to narrow the field. Talking with friends about their vehicles, reading online consumer reports and making a list of features that you want will all help to define your needs. Once you've narrowed the field to one-to-three possibilities, you're ready to shop.
Visit local dealerships. When you walk on the lot you will be bombarded with offers of assistance. To avoid wasting anyone's time, be firm and direct about what you're looking for. Set an immediate price point and let the salesperson know it is non-negotiable. Outline the must-haves from your list and also the things you would like, but can live without if necessary. Talk about your preferred payment, loan length and interest rate. If you discuss all these things with the salesman before looking at a vehicle, he will know you mean business and should only show you cars that meet your criteria.
If he shows you a car that is too expensive, doesn't suit your needs or has too few of your listed desires, do not get into it to drive. Tell him politely but firmly that you want to stick with what you discussed and if he does not have anything that fits your criteria you will be on your way. He will likely find several appropriate vehicles.
Test drive several vehicles. Just sitting in a new car can get the heart pumping with excitement. However, it is important to test drive several vehicles, preferably from several different dealerships, to get a real feel of what is available at your price point. Taking a list of questions with you will help combat the excitement of driving new cars and will remind you to seek important information in the process.
Negotiate price. Regardless of the sticker, you can always try to get the price reduced. If the salesperson insists on the sticker price, try to negotiate options such as installing a better sound system, tinting the windows or anything else you would like but do not want to pay additional money for. All the dealer can say is no, and in many cases the salesperson will say yes to close the deal.
Shop for financing. Most dealerships have banks they steer their customers to. However, you may get a better rate by going to your bank or a different bank than the dealer uses. Take a day or two to call several lenders and ask what type of interest they have on auto loans. Loan officers at your bank may get you a better deal, because they know you. Once you've chosen a lender or decided to let the dealer's bank finance the car, you can make the purchase.
Ask the dealer to register the car. In many cases, the dealer will include tax and registration fees in the total package. The dealer will send the car for any required emissions testing, then get the tags and license plate for you. When you pick up the car, it will be in your name and registered. If this is not a service the dealership provides, you can register the vehicle yourself by asking the dealer to provide a temporary drive-out tag. You can then drive the car to the emissions testing center and to the license and registration office in your county. You will pay a fee for the emissions testing as well as the tags and license plate. The plate and tags will be given to you at the licensing agency and you can place them on the car.
Candace Webb has been writing professionally since 1989. She has worked as a full-time journalist as well as contributed to metropolitan newspapers including the "Tennessean." She has also worked on staff as an associate editor at the "Nashville Parent" magazine. Webb holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in business from San Jose State University.