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    Now that you've decided you need a new car, how do you decide which one's right for you and how much you can afford to spend?

    Buying new cars can be tricky business but is here to help. Our goal is to make car buying a pleasant experience. By following this step by step process, you'll be able to buy a car you're happy with and get monthly payments that won't deplete you bank account.

    Whatever you do, don't wait until the last minute to get rid of your old car that's falling apart before you start the process of buying your new car. If your old car dies, you'll be stuck with no car and you'll make a hasty decision and buy a car you didn't want with payments you can't really afford. Start the buying process early so you're not desperate and rushed. Car dealers will see this and take advantage of it.

    Fool-proof steps to buying a new car:

    Deciding how much you can afford to spend on your new car:

    Step 1: Create a budget for yourself so you can see exactly what you have and what you don't have to spend. Creating a budget can save you time and money because you'll know exactly what you're working with. Your budget should provide you with the following information:

    a. What you can afford to spend on a car in total.
    b. How much money you have for a down payment.
    c. A monthly payment you can afford.

    Step 2: Get a copy of your credit report. This is a very important step. When you go into a car dealership, you do not want the dealer knowing more about your credit than you do. If you have your credit report and you know what's on it, you'll know what they might try to throw at you. A dealer could give you a price on a car and then call you a few days later and tell you that a bad credit report is going to cause a rise in the amount they quoted you. If you don't know you're credit history, you won't be able to fight back against this. Most credit agencies can get you a copy of you report for $6 - $12 that same day. Be sure to take it with you when you go to look at you new car and talk to the dealer.

    Investigating the new car you want to buy:

    Step 1: Figure out what you are looking for in a car. There are so many options and car styles that you could lose sight of what you really need if you are not prepared. If you have a family and need a family vehicle, don't walk onto the lot unprepared and get talked into a two-door sports car. Ask yourself what kind of car you'll need by going over the things you need your car to do. Before you go down to the dealership, use online car services to check out what's available in each car. Don't wait until you get down to the dealership to find out that the car you liked doesn't have a certain feature you wanted. Sites like, will let you pick out a car, pick options and then give you a quote as to how much the total package will cost. Make sure you make a list as to what you're looking for. Use the following questions as a guide.

    Do you go on a great deal of road trips?
    Do you need a lot of cargo room?
    How many passengers do you have in your car on a regular basis? Which do you prefer, manual or automatic?
    Which do you need: 2, 4, or all wheel drive?
    Do you go off-roading?
    How long is your daily commute to work and back?
    Does the seat adjust (if you are shorter or taller and need to adjust)?
    Do you need cup holders in the car?
    Is leg room for your passengers an issue?
    Does the trunk provide sufficient room?
    Does it have a AM/FM, tape player or CD player?
    Are you looking for a specific color (not all cars are available in the same color)?
    What is the car's top speed?

    Once you have asked yourself what kind of features you definitely need, find the cars you like that have those features. Pick 3 or 4 so that you have options when you to test drive. You might find that the one you hesitated putting on your list handles and drives the best.

    Step 2: Test drive the cars. Once you have your necessary options figured out, go to the dealership and test drive the cars that match your needs. Be sure to take along anyone that is a normal passenger in your car. Let them ride with you on the test drive and see how the car rides in the back and/or passenger seat. Let your passenger drive and take a ride in the back or passenger seat to see how it feels to you. During your test drive, make sure to get on a freeway for a few minutes if you do a lot of freeway driving. All car respond differently from surface roads to freeways and this may be a factor for you in your purchase. Pay attention to braking, handling, ease of getting in and out of the car, design, acceleration and safety features. Do not let the dealer rush you in a test drive. Often they will talk up the car while you are driving and try to sell you on how good the car is for you. Don't be afraid to ask them to be quiet for a few minutes so you can hear the car.

    Step 3: Use free online quote services to your advantage. Spend a few days or evenings on your computer and see where these quotes are in relation to the prices you've seen on the car lots. Using a site like, will give you the opportunity to see any differences in price between buying a car online or going down to the dealership. Print out the good quotes you get and take them with you to the dealership. They can't argue with these quotes. They will also know that you've done some research and you're not going to fall for any dealer scams.

    Step 4: Get insurance quotes on the models you have chosen. Calling a few insurance companies or using an online service like will give you a general idea of what your insuance rates might be. Make sure the insurance price falls within your budget. 9 times out of 10, one or more of the cars you have chosen will be eliminated by having higher insurance rates than your budget allows. This will also help you narrow your choices.

    Step 5: Find outside financial institutions and get loan rate information from several. Once you have 3 - 4 quotes, you have something to compare to the dealers finance rates. This will be a good bargaining tool and may help you obtain a lower finance rate then the dealer normally would have offered you. Sites like can give you competitive quotes on a car loan. On some sites, such as Creditland, you can also apply for a credit card which can also be helpful for downpayments.

    Step 6: Estimate your total car price of the car you've chosen so you will know exactly what you're getting yourself into. Don't be caught surprised when the $17,000.00 car you thought you were getting ends up as $19,500.00 in the end. Use the simple chart below:

    Total cost of the model and options you want.
    - The value of the holdback (if ordering the vehicle).
    + Destination charges (1.5% of the vehicle's MSRP).
    + Sales tax.
    - Incentives and rebates.
    Car total (estimated)

    If the dealer adds a delivery and handling charge, this can be negotiated. Try to get them to drop the fee. It's just more profit for them.

    Finalizing a deal on your new car:

    Step 1: Use the estimated total car price to comparison shop at the dealerships around you. Once you know exactly which car you're looking for and you have the estimated total price, you should be able to haggle a dealer down because he knows you've done your homework. Make sure that when the dealer gives you a quote on the car you want that he does it in writing and that this WILL be the final cost of the car. This way they can't stick you with additional charges added on later because they "forgot" to tell you about it. At this point its to late, you have the original quote in writing.

    Step 2: If you are using your old car as a trade in on your new car, negotiate the best price possible for your trade in. Subtract this amount from your new car estimated total price (or if you are putting a down payment on the new car subtract that also). If you still owe more on your old car than they are willing to give you in trade in, you are upside down on your old car. You can either try to sell your old car on your own for more than the dealer will give you in trade in or you can take whatever is left over that you still owe after the trade in amount and add that to your new car estimated total price.

    Step 3: When finalizing your deal for the new car, quite often the dealer will offer you several "extras". These are useless most of the time and much more expensive then they need to be. Don't bother adding any of these "extras".

    If you follow this step by step guide to buying a new car and make wise decisions, you should have no problem driving a brand new car off the lot with the relief of knowing that you got what you wanted and will be able to afford it.