If you’ve followed along with our adventures for any length of time, you know that life for us has been constantly changing over the years. We’ve added babies, moved through several states, and shifted careers! I think that that’s life for everyone, though. We’re all constantly passing through events that shake up our world. Some changes are big, huge, and exciting. Others are more subtle, but still impact and change life. Each new stage and change bring new challenges and needs that impact every aspect of life.
Take, for example, the vehicles you own. With each of these life changes, your vehicle needs change as well. The west’s crazy icy winters and dirt roads meant 4×4 vehicle was the best choice for safety and fun. A car has often been the best option to tackle my husband’s perpetual 45-minute commutes through big cities or across interstates. Our most recent vehicle transition was into a minivan that works well for our current life stage of pickup lines and family activities.
Since our lives have changed so much and so often, we’ve had to go through the vehicle purchasing process so many times that I consider myself somewhat of an expert. Somehow, I get a feeling you’re also going through some life changes that will require a new vehicle soon. So I wanted to put together some of my very best tips and tricks to help the process go as smoothly as possible! Because life changes tend to be stressful enough without adding a difficult vehicle buying experience on top of them!
How To Make Buying a Vehicle Stress-Free
Part One: Do Your Research BEFORE You Go
Following these tips makes all the difference in the world! To me, the biggest part of stress when it comes to purchasing a vehicle is feeling like you’re being pressured into a decision that’s not a wise one. Thanks to the internet, however, you never should be in this position again! These are the different areas you’ll want to tackle before you ever even think of driving to a dealership lot. The best part is that I found out about an amazing free tool you can use to bring everything together into one place.
Set Your Budget
The first area to consider is your budget. This is one area that always frustrated and stressed me during the vehicle buying process. It’s hard to plan a budget when monthly payments and your APR aren’t known ahead of time.
That’s why I wish I’d always had the Capital One® Auto Navigator® tool to use! The Auto Navigator focuses on adding transparency to a sometimes confusing process by allowing you to pre-qualify for auto financing and see their financing terms before visiting a dealer and without impacting your credit score. I went through the process and it really was quick and pain-free.
Once you are pre-approved the Capital One® Auto Navigator® walks you step by step through everything you’ll need to do. The first step is just what we’ve been talking about, nailing down your budget.
You tell it your budget, your down payment, trade-in, and all the different body styles you’d be open to!
Once you fill in this information you can browse more than 3 million cars from over 12,000 participating dealers across the country, including in your area!
Pick Your Best Fit
Now it’s time to circle back to what life change brought you here in the first place. Did you get a new job that you need to commute to? Are you adding a member to your family? Is your family moving from the city to a small town? Will you be traveling often or is this a “for fun” vehicle that you want to bang around and get dirty? Make a list of exactly what key traits are most important like good gas mileage, safety ratings, or special options you’ll need. Narrowing down exactly why you’re purchasing and what you’re hoping to get clarifies things. This can help you know what to pay attention to and not get overwhelmed with all those options!
One of my favorite parts of the Capital One® Auto Navigator® was this page! As you’re browsing through vehicles you can see all the details you’d ever want to know, all in one place! These include dealer ratings and car reviews, and even lets you access car history reports. This information it makes it easy for you to arrive confident and ready to buy when you visit a dealer.
Part Two: Visit strategically
Now you should know your budget, be pre-approved, and know exactly what kind of reliable vehicle you want. Using the dealership ratings you can head to a place you’re confident will help you out! Now, there are just a few more things to take into consideration. These are optional, but can make wrapping up the process as smooth and stress-free as possible!
Pick Off Hours
If at all possible, take some time off during the week to make your purchase. This will allow you to get your salesman’s full attention, and neither of you will feel rushed. If you have older children in school this is great timing as well, which brings in my next tip for my parent readers!
Don’t Bring the Kids
Buying a car is just no fun for anyone when even the best-behaved kids have to come along. If they’re not in school, try hiring a babysitter. If that’s not possible, don’t worry! Another strategy is to have just one adult go for the first part to get the ball rolling. We’ve done this several times, and although I was the co-signer they didn’t need me until the end. Especially if you’ve already prepared online you can feel comfortable and confident about the vehicle your spouse is looking into.
Some dealerships even have the flexibility of allowing you to keep a vehicle overnight. This lets you test it out without someone looking over your shoulder. It also gives you the chance to see how practical the vehicle is for your day to day life. Then you can show up with everyone just to sign the dotted lines.
Life is constantly changing for all of us, and it’s wonderful to be able to adjust to meet these needs! I hope these tips help make the next time you’re buying a vehicle stress-free experience! Don’t forget to bookmark the Capital One® Auto Navigator® so you can do your research ahead of time!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.