Knowing how to buy a car is vital, especially when buying used ... photo by CC user armydre2008 on Flickr

Need to get a set of wheels soon, but haven’t purchased a vehicle on your own before? This article will educate you on everything you need to know on how to buy a car…

1) Figure out what you want in a car

Are you seeking a ride that will perform well in the city, or are you going to be doing a lot of highway driving from your home in the countryside?

Do you need a big vehicle with lots of seats and storage space for your growing family, or are you seeking a sleek sports car that is built for speed?

These criteria and others are things you’ll need to be certain about before you set foot on a car lot, as there are many vehicles that might win you over at first sight, but they may not end up serving your needs in the long run.

2) Decide whether go with a new or used car

Do you want the latest, state of the art automotive technology like driver assist and fancy entertainment add-ons that will keep you and the kids occupied on your journey?

If so, getting a new car may be your best option, despite added insurance costs and the pricier and longer payment plan.

Are you okay with foregoing cars with the latest features in return for a lower sticker price? While you should be wary of usurious financing rates and the possibility that your dealer might be hiding a specific car’s accident history, a used vehicle will be your best bet.

3) Secure the financing you will need to buy the type of car you want

Unless you have enough money lying around to buy a used car that you think is a great deal, chances are you’ll have to finance a car loan in order to get your hands on the type of vehicle you want.

Whatever you do, don’t get it through your dealership, as their rates are usually the worst of all the options available to you. You are better off seeking financing through the banks or via a private lender.

4) When you find a car you are interested in, take it for a test drive

Really put it through its paces. Try the brakes and feel how they engage with the wheels. See if anything comes out your tailpipe when you start the car or accelerate. Try out all the features that are important to you during the drive, like the A/C and entertainment system.

Finally, bring a friend with you to prevent the salesperson from trying to talk you into the sale throughout the entire test drive. This will grant you the head space that you need to evaluate the car’s suitability as you take it for a rip around town.

5) Know all the old school tricks that the sales staff will use before entering negotiations

Car salespeople are some of the retail world’s most persuasive closers. As such, it is important to go into the final negotiations knowing the sorts of tricks they might pull on you so that you can get the best deal possible.

Don’t let them guilt you into accepting an offer, as they are disrespecting you if they cannot respectfully take a refusal of a price that is usually a highball offer at the start.

Stand your ground and demand a better deal. All sales have a healthy profit margin and a commission built into them; you are completely within your rights to want to take some of that for yourself.

Be prepared to walk away at any point (especially if they pull out a four square worksheet) if you feel your end of the bargain isn’t being respected; after all, it’s not like they have a monopoly on car sales in your community, as there are numerous other dealerships where you can take your business.