But car buying doesn’t have to be overwhelming, if you take it one step at a time.
Start by narrowing down which type of car you want. Asking yourself a few simple questions now can make the process a whole lot easier. Once you have your shortlist, doing your homework before you buy can help you make a smarter, informed decision.
Here are some tips to help you research a new car:
1. Custom build your car online.Want to see what your future car will look like? Visit the vehicle configurator on the manufacturer’s website. Typically those sites let you virtually build your ideal vehicle right in front of your eyes, playing with model, colors, options, etc. There's no better way to see exactly how your new car will look, inside and out…plus it makes it easy to show off your expected new buy.
2. Get a rough estimate of your monthly payment.Any "Build and Price" website can help you calculate what your monthly payment might be, to help get your wallet ready. That estimate is usually based on factors like:
- The manufacturer's suggested retail price for that model
- The options you’ve selected,
- Any manufacturer financing incentives or offers
3. Call dealerships ahead of time.Even though car shopping websites may list a particular vehicle, there's no guarantee the specific color or trim will be available in the actual dealer inventory.
If you're looking for something very specific, save yourself some footwork and call dealerships ahead of time to find out if they have a matching car in their inventory, or whether they're able to trade for it from a nearby partner dealership.
4. Talk to your insurance agent before you buy.It may sound backwards to start talking car insurance before you buy the car, but in actuality, it can give you a better sense of the full cost of ownership before you put money down. When you talk to a Farmers agent about the car you plan to buy, they can provide an estimated insurance rate, which coupled with that payment estimation you got, can give you a clearer picture of just how much your new car could cost you.
Why can’t I find the car I want in the dealer’s inventory?When dealerships order the new cars they want on their lots, like most store owners, they’re more likely to choose models they think will sell. That means selecting the cars most likely to please the broadest variety of consumers.
If you’re in the market for an unusual color, a basic trim level, or a manual transmission, it may be difficult to find in stock on most dealership lots. Plus, keep in mind that particularly popular models tend to sell out quickly.
If, for instance, you’re shopping for a Bronze Fire Lincoln MKZ, your search might be a little frustrating, since it's not a very popular color choice. On the other hand, if you just want a black, sedan, you'll probably find your new car in no time, at almost any dealership.
So, while it's important to know what make and model you want to buy, you’re far more likely to find a match at a dealership nearby if you’re flexible with the colors and options you want.
If, on the other hand, you have a specific trim, color, and model in mind, it helps to be patient and proactive. Doing your research, calling dealerships, expanding your search area, and asking around can help locate the car you want. Just make sure to act quickly when you find it.
Remember, you always have the option to custom-order your new car directly from the dealer. Although delivery can take several weeks, the car’s usually built to your exact specifications, so you get exactly what you want.