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Your guide to buying a new car

Every year, car manufacturers work hard to produce new models packed with impressive new safety, technology and entertainment features. As consumers, it’s important to research as much as possible, but all the different facts, stats, and number-crunching can easily become overwhelming. Here’s a handy guide designed to help you navigate the process, set expectations, and make well-informed decisions. Remember to give yourself a good amount of time to figure out exactly what you’re looking for, and don’t forget to have fun. Congrats on your new ride!

Your budget

Whether you’re planning on financing or leasing your new car, there are some important guidelines that will make it more comfortable to manage your payment. According to experts, your total car-related monthly payments should be no more than 20 percent of your take-home (after tax) pay. This includes gas, insurance, maintenance, etc. Your down payment, if you can manage, should be at least 20 percent of the purchase price. Most dealerships offer financing, and many manufacturers offer special lease deals. You can also finance through other banks and credit unions. Do your research beforehand so you can get the best rate possible and secure an affordable monthly payment.

Your preferences

When you start shopping around, it helps to make a list of features and options that are “nice to haves” and “non-negotiables.” Think about what you’re going to use your car most for and how many people you’ll need to haul, and adjust your search accordingly. Many manufacturers now offer a plethora of hybrid, gas, or electric engines along with technological features across their entire lineup, so whether you’re a road-tripping parent or a single commuter, there’s a perfect ride for your lifestyle.

Your negotiating

The car-buying process has dramatically improved over the last decade thanks to the wealth of information available on the internet. Now, it just takes a few clicks to find out not only the price a dealer is offering, but also what people paid for similar cars in your area. While other sites may show advertised prices, the Progressive Car Shopping Service gets you access to real prices (total before tax) on local inventory, so you can browse actual cars within your budget before visiting the dealership. Once you find the car you want at a price you’re happy with, all you have to do is make an appointment for a test drive.

Your timing

While there are many car sales throughout the year around most major holidays, according to TrueCar, one of the best times to buy is the end of the year. Dealerships are eager to move out inventory to make room for next year’s models. If you can wait it out, you might find the best deal at that time. Something else to consider is whether the car you want is due for a redesign. If you’re the type of person who wants the newest design, make sure you research when that’s happening. If it’s not important to you, you could snag a great deal on a car that’s due for a redesign in the following year.

When you’re ready to start your car-buying journey be sure to check out the Progressive Car Shopping Service. Happy shopping!

Disclosure: This information is provided for informational purposes, may not be applicable to all situations, and is not intended to provided legal, tax, or financial advice.  For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.