Buying a new car can intimidate many people. This doesn’t need to be the case for you.

Yes, purchasing a vehicle is a somewhat complex process (if you’re a responsible buyer) because it consists of numerous essential tasks you must complete to ensure you end up with a car that suits your needs and fits your budget. That said, with the right checklist, addressing all these necessary tasks and priorities often simplifies what might otherwise seem overwhelming.

Items to have on your checklist/to-do list when buying a new car include the following:

  • Determine What Qualities Are Most Important to You

A car is a big purchase. You don’t want to settle for anything less than the most ideal vehicle you can find (and afford) when buying one.

Of course, what qualifies as “ideal” for one driver may not be the same for another. Ask yourself how you will be using your car to determine what your needs are. Consider how such factors as your family’s size, your region’s climate, and how often you drive should influence your decision regarding what type of vehicle you are looking for and which features it must be equipped with.

This step should also involve setting your budget. Knowing how much you are willing to spend will help you narrow down your options later.

  • Do Your Research

This is critical. While the idea of setting aside time to research your options thoroughly may not appeal to car buyers who want to drive off the lot with the perfect new vehicle as soon as possible, if you take the time to do your homework now, you’ll benefit in the long run.

Factors to consider when researching cars to buy include the following:

  • Price
  • Important features
  • Financing options

Be aware that the price of a car doesn’t reflect the total amount of money you may spend on it. You must also consider how factors like fuel economy, maintenance needs, and others will affect the overall cost. Remember this when comparing the prices of vehicles.

  • Thoroughly Understand the Pros & Cons of Leasing vs. Buying

You don’t necessarily need to purchase your new vehicle. You could choose to lease it instead.

Neither option is always the best choice. To make a decision between leasing or buying, think about how long you wish to keep a vehicle and how often you will use it.

Leasing is sometimes more affordable than buying because it allows you to make relatively small monthly payments in exchange for using a car for a certain period of time. However, although this rule of thumb does not always apply, if you use the same vehicle for three years or more, buying it instead of leasing it may be the more financially sound option.

Additionally, when you lease a vehicle, there may be a limit to how many miles you can drive during the lease term. Exceeding this limit will result in excess mileage penalties.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from leasing a car. It’s also not meant to encourage you to lease a new vehicle. It’s simply meant to highlight the importance of thoroughly considering the pros and cons of your two main options before deciding which is best.

  • Choose the Right Test Drive Route

A test drive won’t tell you much about whether a certain car is right for you if it doesn’t involve driving in the types of conditions you will most often drive in when the car is yours. With that in mind, plot a test drive route near the dealership that will give you the opportunity to find out how the vehicle performs in the right conditions.

Someone at the dealership may gladly suggest a route if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Just tell them what you’re looking for (i.e. heavy traffic areas, freeway driving, etc.) and they will let you know where to go.

  • Be Prepared

Gather such necessary items as your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and payment method when heading to the dealership. This may seem like common sense, but including a reminder of this on your checklist when buying a new car can help you avoid any hiccups that can draw the process out.

Most importantly, don’t rush through the process. No one wants to experience buyer’s remorse after purchasing something as significant as a new vehicle. Luckily, if you work through this checklist one step at a time, that is unlikely to happen to you.


Start rounding up and saving to pay down your car loan faster