In the age of the internet, it is all too easy to research the type of car you want to buy before even going to the dealership. For example, say you are interested in the Nissan Rogue; before you even set foot into the showroom, you should know everything you can about the car you want to buy. Only after research and careful consideration should you visit your Nissan Rogue dealership. Now, many of you think that doing research on cars online is an easy enough task, and you could be right. It is all too easy to get sidetracked by people’s opinions and just as easy to get unreliable information from a bad source. That is, you can’t believe everything you read about a particular model. For example, you might read an article about the Ford F-150, but it was obviously written by someone who would never drive anything but a Chevy. Another benefit of doing research online is that you enjoy learning about a particular model without a salesman breathing down your neck. Here is a short guide on how to properly research cars online.
There are two parts to researching cars online; you do research to learn about the car, truck, or SUV that you want, and you do research on a fair price. You don’t want to do both at the same time as you will get confused. And remember to take notes as you are researching so you don’t forget what you are learning. Plus, it’s handy to have your notes with you when you do go to the dealership to make a purchase.
Even if you have a good idea about which make and model you want, it makes sense to research the competition as well. You never know what might happen during your discovery. For example, you might have your mindset on a Hyundai Santa Fe, but after researching the Nissan Rogue, you discover that it is a better fit for you and your lifestyle. Remember, you are doing yourself a great favor by doing thorough research and not limiting yourself to just one or two models.
Once you have done your research and decided which make and model is suitable for you, now is the time to check the dealership website and research prices. Researching prices isn’t necessarily about getting the best deal; it’s more about getting an idea of what you are going to pay for your new ride. In all likelihood, you aren’t going to walk into the dealership and drive out in a base model with no extra features or packages. So do research about the various trim levels, what each one will cost, and determine which features are right for you. In a nutshell, you want to break down the vehicle you want by make, model, year, trim, options, and every other little detail. This way, you know exactly what you will be paying, and there are no surprises when you head to the dealership.
Watch Your Sources
You will want to ensure that the information you are gathering about a particular car, truck, or SUV is true and accurate. One of the better sources is from the manufacturers themselves. That is, if you want to learn more about the Nissan Rogue, then visit the official Nissan website. However, while the information about a vehicle on the manufacturer’s website will be very accurate, there is going to be more than a touch of bias. The Toyota RAV4 is the best deal around if you listen to the people at Toyota, but then you open up the Nissan site, and suddenly the Rogue looks like the best SUV ever made.
To cut through the manufacturer bias, look for other websites that do automotive reviews. There are plenty out there in addition to Auto Influence, and many of them give honest and accurate assessments. In addition to vehicle impressions from various reviewers, major sites like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and JD Power often have detailed brand and model information from studies they have conducted. A good search of the internet will turn up all sorts of points of view, including reviews from individual owners of the model in question (although you should often take those with a healthy grain of salt).
Knowledge is Power
You should always confirm any information you find about a make and model with at least two other resources. For example, if one website you visit claims that the Nissan Rogue gets 27 miles to the gallon in the city, check to see if other sources can confirm this. Here at Auto Influence, we always check every fact with the releases from the manufacturer and any relevant regulatory agencies, but not every site is so concerned with details. In addition, if you are researching an individual used car, truck, or SUV that you found on a dealership lot, make sure you research vehicle history reports. As we said, knowledge is power, and you can use the information as ammunition when you are making an offer on a used model.
Once you are sure about the make and model that you want and which trim, and what options you are getting, it’s time to research more about the cost. Figure out how much you can put down on your car or the trade value for your old vehicle. There are several websites that can help. Kelley Blue Book is an excellent source to determine the value of a trade-in. U.S. News has a wonderful vehicle cost calculator that will help you determine factors such as taxes and payment details.
While most dealerships have a finance department, and they do an excellent job in finding a decent loan, it still makes sense for you to check out financing through other sources. You can go to the website of your bank or credit union to check out interest rates and other details. You can utilize websites like Credit Karma to check your credit to get an idea of what sort of rate you qualify for. LendingTree is a good site if you want to compare financing quotes from multiple sources all in one location. There are lots of online resources that will help sort out the financial details of a new car purchase.
When shopping for a new car, truck, or SUV, people often forget to factor in insurance premiums. You might be getting a great rate on your current vehicle, but that could change when you get something that is brand new and more expensive. It is also a good idea to check out your insurance company’s website and see if all of your information is updated. For example, maybe you recently got married, and this is not updated in your account. There are small details like this that could lower your car insurance rate.
Buying a car is a big deal. In fact, it is likely the second biggest purchase you will make after your house. Since buying a car, truck, or SUV is a significant investment, you will want to do as much research as you can and gather as much information as possible. Researching before heading to the dealership will also speed up the car-buying process, and you may actually enjoy your time at the dealership. Plus, you might even impress the salesperson with the knowledge you have obtained.