Buying a car
Decide your ‘must-haves,’ then compare dealers and prices
February is among the busiest times of the year at new car showrooms. While driving off the lot with a new set of wheels can be exhilarating, many consumers wonder if they bought the best car for them.
Before you step onto the showroom floor, it’s important to know what kind of car you need, how much you want to spend and what options you consider necessities. Here are a few factors to consider:
Figure out what you can afford
Buying a new car can be one of the biggest purchases most people ever make. Many experts suggest capping your car payment at no more than 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay. Others suggest no more than 15 percent, if possible. Don’t forget: You’ll still have other transportation-related costs, including car insurance, taxes and fuel.
North Caroina Lemon Law
This law, also known as the New Motor Vehicles Warranties Act, applies to new passenger cars, pick-up trucks, motorcycles and most vans bought in North Carolina. It requires manufacturers to repair defects that affect the use, value or safety of a new motor vehicle within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first). For more information, visit ncdoj.gov
Narrow down your choices
Write down what’s important to you. Consider such basic things as seating capacity, gas mileage, safety and performance so you can narrow down your choice. Then move to the more fun aspects of car buying — all the bells and whistles. Luxurious upholstery, power locks, remote keyless entry and heated mirrors are some conveniences many new car owners wouldn’t want to live without. Others can live without those luxuries but want high-tech audio equipment, satellite radio, hands-free phones or built-in navigation systems. Make a list of your must-haves while at the same time relating it to your budget.
Automotive rewards cards
There is a little-known way for consumers to save for and purchase a car, and that’s through an automotive rewards card. A recent survey found that that only 5 percent of consumers have a rewards card with automotive benefits, meaning most Americans may not even be aware of this type of credit card reward.
One example is the GM Card from Capital One. The card allows users to accumulate earnings and redeem them towards the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. Consumers earn 5 percent on their first $5,000 worth of net card purchases annually and an unlimited 2 percent on all other purchases. Car buyers are offered the ability to earn and use rewards with no expiration and no limits on how much they can apply toward their new GM automobile. To learn more about the new GM Card, visit capitalone.com/gmcard.
To learn about other cards, visit edmunds.com and put in “Automotive rewards cards” in its search field. You can also research new (and used) car prices and read test drive reviews at this online resource website.
Get the best deal
Follow the automotive section of your local newspaper and also look online to compare dealers and new car prices. Websites that let you compare costs in an area include cars.com and carwoo.com. Be sure to look for incentives and rebates.