Thinking About Getting New Wheels? Here are 5 Things You Should Have Before Buying a Car

by Jasmine Powell

Deciding to purchase or finance a vehicle is a major milestone in one’s life. It’s a serious commitment and with it comes a lot of responsibility.

But what exactly do you need before walking into a dealership? How can you get the best deals (and not walk away with a hole in your pocket)? There are five things every person should have before deciding to buy a car. 

1) A Good Credit Score

I can already imagine what some of you are saying. “I need good credit to buy a car?” 

Not necessarily—a dealer is almost always willing to sell a vehicle. However, what is also important to note is that the greater your score is, the lower your interest rate can be. And if you plan on getting a loan, having a good credit score is needed.

On average, auto loan brokers are looking for a score of 660 or higher. If you’re a younger person who doesn’t have much credit history, you could ask a parent or guardian to cosign for you, although the pros and cons of cosigning depend on how responsible you are and the trust your parent or guardian has towards you.

Need some tips for improving it? Check out this article.

2. A Down Payment 

“And I’m going to need a down payment too?!” 

It’s optional, but a downpayment can save you loads of money and can help prevent you from paying more for a car. It’s possible to get a car with no down payment, but the cost of that is completely financing it. 

There are several benefits to putting down a down payment. Not only do you build trust with lenders, but you can get a lower monthly payment and lower interest rates. Your chances of getting a loan increase significantly. And you can offset depreciation, how a car decreases over time. These benefits can help in the long run. 

Need help in getting started with the down payment? Utilize Nav.it’s App features and get in touch with a Money Coach to get your savings journey started!

3. A Price Range 

When buying a car, it’s important to know how much you can afford each month. If you’re not sure, the Nav.it App can help you figure out your expenses and plan for every payment with its automated budgeting.

(Fun fact: For people who track their spending, 75% found they reduced their anxiety around money and 79% spent less impulsively. You’ll feel better about purchasing with a budget.)

Consider other factors, like car insurance, car warranties, oil changes, and gas. How much would it cost to have certain things like batteries and tires replaced on the car?

Having a price range when going into the dealership will help your salesman find something that is sensible for you (and it can also help you bypass the car salesman pitches). 

4. A Researched List of Cars 

Before going into a dealership, it would be great to research some cars in advance. Going in unprepared can make you susceptible to anything (like ridiculously high-cost cars). Having a well-researched list of cars and/or features that you want your car to have can make the process smoother. 

Also, utilizing online tools like Kelley Blue Book can help you look at pricing and invoices ahead of time. Being prepared and knowing the value of the car you want can prevent you from getting scammed into paying more for a car than it actually is. 

5. A Car Mechanic

Having a car mechanic check out your vehicle before you make the purchase is vital—especially with used cars. You don’t want to drop a down payment on a car that has problems going up hills or traveling certain road types. It’s important to be informed about all aspects of your purchase. (And even later down the road when it comes to car maintenance.)

A car mechanic can help you verify that purchase. They can look at the condition level of the car that includes the inspection of the tires as well as brakes. After all, what you don’t know may cost you. Using your resources, like a reliable mechanic, can save you thousands down the road. You can walk off the lot feeling confident that you got the right choice for yourself! 

With these five things in mind, you can walk into a dealership prepared and confident.

Related Reads:

Why It’s Time to Check Your Credit Score

Time to Get a Money Coach

Start Saving with Nav.it

Nav.it’s Downloadable Guide to Budgeting


Jasmine Powell is currently a graduate student at the University of Memphis and an intern at Nav.it. Her goal is to make writing her living and create material that will help people of color in their daily lives.

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