Before you sign on the dotted line — and after you drive it home — consider these must-knows.
Take Your Time
Buying a new car is a big investment, so start by considering what type of car you need. Will it be used primarily for commuting? Driving kids to school and around town? Target the kind of vehicle that best matches your lifestyle. Do some research online to find out what the typical asking price is for your preferred vehicle, then begin your dealership visits.
Check Interest Rates
Most car dealers offer financing, but you may be able to find a better rate through your local financial institution. Arranging your own financing could save you money and help you negotiate a lower rate with the dealership.
Update Your Car Maintenance Schedule
Listen to your vehicle: New cars are more efficient than ever before. They also have onboard computers that keep track of oil usage and other fluids and tell you when it's time for maintenance. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and save yourself some money by only changing the oil when it's necessary (and maybe not at every 3,000 miles).
Track Your Tires
Keeping a close eye on your tires is important for your safety as well as your fuel economy. Check the tire pressure and tread monthly. A quick way to check is to put a quarter upside down in the tread. If any part of George Washington's head is covered, your tires are sufficiently filled.
Wash Your Car
Regularly washing your vehicle removes grit and grime that may damage the paint over time. A compromised paint job doesn't just look lousy - it leaves your car more susceptible to rust. Protect your resale value with a quick trip through the car wash.
Keep Paper Manuals
While many car manuals can be found online and proof of insurance is readily available through an app, it's a good idea to keep the original car manual and a print of your insurance information in the car. In the event you may need help where there isn't internet service or your mobile device has powered down, paper copies can be a great resource to get you back on the road.
Buy the Right Fuel
There's no reason to pay more for fuel if your vehicle doesn't require premium gasoline. Check with your owner's manual to see what fuel is required. If it says that premium is only recommended you can rest easy knowing your vehicle will continue to run well on regular gasoline. Flex-fuel vehicles can accept several types of gasoline. Consult your owner's manual before trying out any new type of fuel.
Change Your Commute
On average, Americans spend more than 25 minutes traveling each way to work. All of that starting, stopping, and idling increases the wear and tear on your vehicle. If you can change your work schedule so you're not on the road during the busiest times, you will save on fuel costs and protect the longevity of your vehicle.