What you need to know before buying a used car
Looking to buy your next car in Uganda? Start here.
The first steps to buying a new car the smarter way.
Buying a car is a big investment. And as with any investment, you should always do your research. Many new car owners end up with the wrong car for their needs or become saddled with debt. We created this guide to help you be prepared both practically and financially.
1. Know Your Needs
You should start by asking yourself why you’re replacing your car. Maybe your family situation has changed, repairs have gotten too costly or it’s just time for something new. There’s no right or wrong answer, but this is an important step that will help guide you on the rest of your car-buying journey.
Think about what you like and don’t like about your current vehicle. You may love how reliable your car is, but are looking for the latest and greatest in driver-assist technology. Whatever you come up with, take notes. This will help you keep track of and prioritize any must-have features.
Now it’s time to determine the primary purpose of your new car. For most people that could be commuting, utility or fun. Defining your purpose can help point you to corresponding categories like fuel-efficient hybrids, powerful trucks or sporty coupes. You may also find yourself wanting a car that can do it all, like a compact SUV.
That said, do consider how often your new car will be doing what it was designed for. If you only need eight seats when your extended family is in town during the holidays, you may be better off renting a minivan instead of owning a minivan. Being honest with your needs could help you save on the cost of your vehicle and time spent at the pump.
You should also make sure your new car fits your current and upcoming life stages. A sports car might seem like fun when you’re single with few responsibilities, but you may have to cut it short if you’re planning to start a family in the near future. So if you’re going to buy, make sure that you’re in it for the long haul. If you’re anticipating any big changes in the next few years, a short 2-3 year lease might make the most economic sense instead of buying a vehicle outright.
2. Check Your Finances
Now it’s time to think about the financial side of the equation. If it’s been more than a few years since you’ve bought a car, you might discover that the economics of car-buying are a little different than you remember. At the time of this writing, interest rates for car loans are the highest they’ve been in a decade, so keep your expectations in check if you’re determined to finance at 0% APR.
New cars are also more expensive these days, with the average price weighing in at over $35,000. But don’t worry, it’s not solely due to inflation. In many cases you’re getting more for your money, as new cars are safer and more feature-rich than ever. Technology has also helped fuel economy, so while some vehicles may now cost more up front, you’ll save at the pump going forward. For example, a new Honda Civic is larger and more luxurious than a Honda Accord from decades past.
This is a good time to think about whether you should buy or lease your new car. Based on depreciation, it usually makes more financial sense to buy a vehicle if you plan to keep it for more than five years. If you’re not sure whether you’ll keep a car for more than three years, our math suggests that, in most cases, you should lease instead. Be sure to account for the full cost of the vehicle including taxes, fees, and registration, especially if you’re paying in cash.
Shopping for a used car can open the doors to exciting possibilities that would otherwise be out of reach. For the same price as the base model of a new car, you may be able to purchase the same model with additional features and amenities. Or, you can step up to an entirely different car from a more premium brand. Many manufacturers also offer certified pre-owned programs with a limited powertrain warranty, making for a more worry-free ownership experience.
Lastly, don’t forget to check your credit well in advance of your purchase. It’s one of the biggest factors in determining what kind of financing you qualify for, and you should ensure that your credit report is free of any errors. Many sites offer free credit reports, so you’ll know where you stand before you walk into the dealership.
3.Take a Test Drive
Now it’s time to do some research and see which car deserves a spot in your driveway. Take some time to consult with family, watch videos and read articles. If you need suggestions on the best vehicles across different categories, check out our top picks for the best SUVs, best hybrids and best electric vehicles.
Make a shortlist of at least three vehicles that stand out to you, along with any corresponding trims, colors or technology packages. Even if you’re set on a specific car, it’s always a good idea to cross-shop it with other vehicles. This helps ensure that you don’t make an impulsive purchase.
Once you’ve finalized your shortlist, it’s time to visit your local dealership and take each car for a test drive. It’s free and can tell you everything that videos and pictures can’t. When you’re having a hard time deciding between two cars that look similar on paper, a test drive can make the differences much more apparent.
In some cases, you may find yourself having to choose between variations of one model. One might have a powerful turbocharged engine while the other is a fuel-efficient hybrid. If the difference is more than cosmetic, don’t be afraid to test drive “the same car” in multiple forms.
Remember that there’s no pressure to buy anything at this point. If anyone asks, you’re just browsing for now. We do suggest completing all your test drives relatively close together, such as in one weekend. That way, the experience of each vehicle will be fresh in your mind. Test drives can also be a lot of fun, so go ahead and enjoy it.
After doing these three things, you’ll be well ahead of the game before you buy a car. We hope this information helps you make a more informed decision and connects you with the perfect vehicle for your needs.