(BPT) - Are you planning to buy a car in 2024? Now is the time to do your homework and start shopping around so you can pick a vehicle that fits your needs without hurting your wallet.
For decades, most people followed a simple formula when they were ready to purchase a new vehicle - dealership, negotiate and purchase, drive off the lot. Today, there are a myriad of options available in the ever-evolving auto landscape that can leave drivers with a lot of questions.
Chase Auto wants to simplify car shopping, whether you're a first-time or experienced car buyer. Here are the most important aspects of car buying that you should keep in mind when buying a car in 2024.
1. Set a realistic budget
Before you begin shopping, set a budget that you can stick to. Knowing how much you can afford, especially if you plan to pay for the car over time, will help you avoid stretching your finances.
When setting your budget, don't just look at a car's sticker price. Other auto expenses, like insurance, maintenance and fuel, can quickly add up. If you need help figuring out what you can realistically afford, use online tools like Chase's Auto Loan Calculator to estimate your monthly payments. You can also use a tool like Autosave, which allows you to automate transfers from your Chase checking to Chase savings, to create a car fund for your future purchase.
2. Shop for deals
When buying a car, timing is everything. If you can, wait until the end of the month, end of the model year or end of the calendar year when dealers are trying to meet quotas or clear out inventory for new models. Your patience may help you get your ideal car at a great price.
Don't forget to look for holiday sales! Christmas, New Year's, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day may yield great savings on this year's and next year's models.
Make sure you are considering multiple vehicles and shopping around at several dealerships to get the best price.
3. Take it for a spin
Once you've narrowed down the vehicles you're most excited about, schedule test drives to see how it looks and feels, and to make sure it fits your needs.
Schedule test drives of different vehicles within the same day or week so your impression of each is fresh in your memory. Keep your daily driving conditions in mind and try to simulate them during your test. For example, if you're a parent, bring a car seat to see how it fits.
After your test drive, make sure to ask about the warranties, fuel and maintenance requirements, extended test drives and the possibility of bringing the car to your own mechanic for a second opinion if buying pre-owned.
4. Weigh your financing options
Will you take out an auto loan or lease your car? Both financing options have their benefits. At the end of the day, it all comes down to which best fits your budget and lifestyle.
If you purchase your car using a loan, you don't have to worry about mileage limits, and you're free to customize the car. Once you pay it off, you own it outright. At Chase Auto, you can get pre-qualified for financing before even heading into the dealership. On the other hand, leasing typically has lower upfront costs than a loan payment. After the lease term, you can return, purchase or trade in your vehicle.
5. Consider electric
More and more major manufacturers are offering electric vehicles (EVs), so it's a good idea to consider whether an EV fits your lifestyle. Cost, maintenance, range, and charging logistics are some key factors to think through.
Although the sticker price of an EV may be higher than that of a traditional gas vehicle, there are options to help offset the cost, such as federal and local tax incentives. Also, it typically costs less to charge your vehicle than to fill up a tank with gas. It may be worth it to pay more upfront for possible long-term savings.
EVs typically require less maintenance than traditional cars. Also, EV batteries tend to be covered by 8- to 10-year warranties, outlasting the time most people own their cars. That said, EV tires degrade faster due to the weight of the battery, so keep that in mind when calculating the long-term costs of ownership.
Finally, consider how far you drive your car and if charging stations are nearby. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the range of an EV with a fully charged battery could be between 110 to 300 miles, but that number depends on the make and model as well as other factors like weather, traffic conditions and driving style. Also, when it comes to charging infrastructure, some cities and states may have more charging stations than others. Make sure to plan your trip ahead of time and map your route.
Ultimately, it is best to stay open to different options on the market. Research different vehicle options and financing programs, and make sure to shop at several dealerships so you can get a vehicle that's a fit for you, your family and your budget in 2024.
To learn more about car shopping and financing, visit autofinance.chase.com.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC
This article is for educational purposes only and provides general auto information. The material is not intended to provide legal, tax, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. product or service. Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results. Chase is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third party products, services or other content. For specific advice about your circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.