Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A sales woman is talking to a customer about a white SUV at a Buy Here Pay Here dealership.

Car Buying 101

For many first-time buyers, the car buying experience can seem really intimidating. This perspective is reasonably fair, as to the uninformed, there is plenty to take into account. From the complication of being told to ‘buy at the dealership, and pay at the financial institution,’ to finding a Buy Here Pay Here dealership, or to the intricate process of finding the right car in the first place; there is a lot to be overwhelmed by. Fortunately, this blog post will help you break down all of the walls and uncover all of the unknowns so that you can find the car that checks off all of your automotive boxes. The car buying experience can be a lot to handle at first, but with a little help and guidance, it doesn’t have to be.

Certified Pre-Owned Or New?

One question a lot of new car buyers have is, ‘ should I buy Certified Pre-Owned, or should I buy something new?’ This is a great question, and the answer can depend all on what you’re looking for in a car ownership experience. Certified Pre-Owned cars are used late-model cars that have received a thorough multi-point inspection from the manufacturer. In a multi-point inspection, automotive experts evaluate every inch of the vehicle and repair any issues that may arise. As a result, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles can feel as good as new, and are at a significantly reduced price point.

On the other hand, new cars give drivers the chance to sit behind the latest and greatest model on the market. When you purchase a new car, you’ll be given a chance to drive something no one else has driven, which can be thrilling in its own right. There is also the added sentimental value of driving something brand new, every scrape, mile, and mark as your own. Buying new is a great option for drivers who don’t like wondering what kind of person owned their vehicle before-hand.

That said, determining which is better all depends on your personal preferences. Some drivers, don’t mind sharing the history of a car and appreciate the lower financial burden that Certified Pre-Owned vehicles offer. On the other hand, if you want to drive a car that is less likely to have an unexpected maintenance issue, buying brand new would be the preferred option.

SUV, Sedan, or Pickup?

Another big question you should ask yourself before running down to a dealership and picking up the first thing you see is, ‘What kind of car do I want to own?’ There are a wide variety of auto-body styles out there, the main ones being: coupes, hatchbacks, crossovers, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), convertibles, sedans, pickup trucks, minivans, and performance vehicles. There is plenty of variation within these body styles; however, each of them offers their positives and negatives.

For instance, if you’re the parent of a new family, you’ll likely prioritize space and safety; in this case, a minivan or SUV might be the best option. Alternatively, there are drivers who care more about performance and comfort than anything else; in these instances, a performance vehicle or luxury sedan might be a better fit.

A lot goes into finding the vehicle body type that best fits your automotive needs, and the best way to determine which works best for you is to visualize how you spend your day today. Do you usually transport a lot of cargo and passengers? Do you commute to work? Do you like off-roading? Answering some of these questions can help you find the vehicle type or types that fit your automotive needs.

Fuel Economy

An influential factor in the car buying process is fuel economy. Gas prices are always rising, and society is beginning to pay extra attention to carbon footprint; as a result, drivers are putting even greater value on fuel economy. Before purchasing a vehicle, you should take the time to focus on the vehicle’s miles per gallon rating, or MPG-rating. The MPG is the number of miles that your car can travel on a single gallon of gas, and is usually separated into two types of driving, city driving, and highway driving. More often than not, highway driving gas mileage is going to be higher than city driving gas mileage. However, for hybrid vehicles that use regenerative braking to power onboard battery supplies, the inverse is true.

A man is filling up a black vehicle at a gas station.

Certain car types tend to have a particular range of fuel efficiency. For instance, sedans, coupes, and hatchbacks are almost always going to get better gas mileage than SUVs, pickup trucks, crossovers, and minivans.

Picking the Right Engine

There are three types of engines that you’ll likely find in a new or Certified Pre-Owned car; four-cylinder, V6, and V8 engines. While there is plenty of diversity within these three major engine types, each type specializes in a certain area of driving. For starters, the number associated with the engine type refers to the number of cylinders that power it. Typically, the more cylinders your engine has, the greater the power you’ll have at your disposal. At the same time, more cylinders can also account for lesser fuel economy, since you’ll need to pump more fuel into your engine to power these extra cylinders.

So, which engine type is right for you? Contrary to popular belief, there is no superior engine type. Much like determining body types, finding the superior engine all depends on your personal preferences. Do you prioritize horsepower over fuel economy, or would you instead save cash at the pump? Answering these questions for yourself can greater define what kind of car is likely to check off all of your automotive boxes.

Making the Right Financial Decision

Possibly the most intimidating and complicated part of the car buying process is the finances. Say you’ve found the ideal car with the perfect body type, great fuel economy, and a reasonably powerful engine, now you’ll need to figure out how best you want to pay for it. Sure, you can buy the car outright, but it’s unlikely you’ll want to drop that much cash at once. The traditional way to purchase a car is to apply for an auto loan. With an auto loan, you can buy the car from the dealership and pay the financial institution back over an extended period of time.

When applying for an auto loan, it is wise to put down a considerable down-payment. By offering up a down-payment, you can lessen the amount you’ll have to pay monthly. Many dealerships recommend that you pay 20% of the car’s cost up front, so as to ease the cost of your monthly payments. Length is another important factor to auto loans, and on average, can last as long as 68 months.

Tackling the Car Buying Process

Car buying can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. While there are a lot of factors to consider, going through every step of the process can help you find a car that fulfills all of your needs, and sign up for a financial agreement that won’t break your bank account. Fortunately, you won’t have to go it alone either. Dealership staff do a great job of informing their customers and can help you find the car that checks off all of your automotive boxes.