How To

Buy A Car

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Calculate Your Budget

Before you even start looking for a car, you need to know how much you’re able to spend each month. Your monthly payment should not exceed more than 15% of your monthly income. If you choose an expensive car that you can barely afford, you’ll often find yourself stressed out about your bank account. Using only 15% of your income gives you enough room to work with. 

When deciding on your budget, you should also factor in maintenance costs. You’ll need regular oil changes, inspections, tire rotations, basically any sort of work that will keep your vehicle in good shape. Our stores always have service specials whenever you’re ready for maintenance. Just call any Prieto Automotive service center to find out how you can save a few bucks!

To learn more about setting up a budget, read up on “How to Determine a Budget For Your New Car”.

Find the Right Cars Before You Commit

Once you find out how much you can spend, you can narrow down your search. If you look at the website for any Prieto Automotive location, you’ll find a sidebar with different filters. One of the many filters you can adjust is the price range. Find out which cars fit your budget and keep a list of the ones you like.  

Making a list of vehicles that fit your criteria allows for flexibility when faced with a decision at the dealership. You don’t want to be dead set on one specific car just to find out after your test drive that you don’t like it. Have some backup choices ready just in case.  

Test Out the Car Before You Buy

Looking at a car is one thing, but actually driving it is a completely different experience. Even if a vehicle looks cool, it won’t matter if you don’t enjoy driving it. The best way to find out if you’re comfortable in a vehicle is to take it out for a test drive. During the drive, you can ask your sales person any questions that you might have.

During the drive, there are certain things you can look for. First of all, you want to be comfortable while you’re driving. Is the seat able to be adjusted to your figure? If you can barely see over the steering wheel, imagine dealing with the struggle every single day. How is the engine? Think about your daily routine and decide how much power you need to get through your day. Are there too many features? That may seem like a silly question because you may be thinking, “the more the better, right?”. Imagine sitting down at the cockpit of a space shuttle and being overwhelmed by the countless buttons and switches. You should find a version of the vehicle you want with only the features that you need and can manage.

A test drive is also a good opportunity to become familiar with the vehicle before you decide that you really want it. Test drives are free, so make the most of it! You can call any Prieto Automotive location to schedule a drive, or you can show up whenever you have time and we’ll hit the road! 

Understand the Basics of Financing

Your monthly payment on a vehicle is calculated by dividing the value of the car over the course of your contract. Most contracts are set for 72 months, so a car valued at $25,000 could have a monthly payment of around $347. Your annual percentage rate (APR) is also added onto the amount you owe over time. 

Your APR is a collection of fees and interest rates that are added to your contract. Your credit score influences the percentage of your APR. Like in most cases, a higher score will give you a lower percentage while a low score will lead to higher percentages. The rate you receive could also depend on who you’re borrowing from. Even if you provide the same information, one lender could have a completely different rate than another lender.

Down payments also greatly affect the amount of your monthly payment. The more you put down up front, the less you’re borrowing for your loan which means less to pay each month. Not all places require a down payment, but it will help you in the long run. Even putting down a couple hundred dollars could affect your monthly payment, although we recommend you put down a couple thousand if you can help it. 

If you need a new car immediately and you didn’t have time to save up for a down payment, most places will accept your old car in place of cash. At Prieto Automotive, we use companies like Kelley Blue Book to give you an instant cash offer that you can use as trade-in credit for your new vehicle. Read “How An Instant Cash Offer Works” to learn more about the process.

Now that you have all the tools, you’re ready to find that perfect vehicle! When you’re ready to make your decision, call or visit any Prieto Automotive store and our experts will walk you through the process. 


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