By JPMorgan Chase Bank
For decades, most people followed a simple formula when they were ready to purchase a new vehicle. Visit a dealership in person, negotiate a price, complete the purchase and drive the car off the lot.
Today, there’s a myriad of car buying options available, and whether you’re a first-time or a veteran car buyer, the ever-evolving landscape of the auto industry can leave consumers with a lot of questions. Renée Horne, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Chase Auto, offers five tips to help consumers prepare for their next car shopping experience.
- Set your budget, and stick to it
There are a variety of different expenses that come with getting a car – the purchase cost, insurance, maintenance and fuel being a few of them. Knowing how much you can afford, especially if you plan to pay for it over time, is key to avoiding a car bill that stretches your finances. Chase has a variety of different budgeting tools and tips to help you save for your purchase.
- Look for the best deals
Like many other items, vehicles have a price cycle; the end of the month and end of the model or calendar years tend to be when you can find a better deal, as dealers may need to meet quotas or clear out inventory. New models generally hit lots in the fall, so instead of buying a 2024 model in September, consider the 2023 model. This Labor Day, there might even be holiday sales where you can find additional savings. Generally, make sure you are considering multiple vehicles and shopping around at several dealerships to get the best price.
- Test drive the vehicle to make sure it fits your needs
This is your time to see how the vehicle looks and feels, try out the interior systems and figure out if the vehicle fits your needs. Schedule test drive appointments to ensure the car you want is still available, ideally a few in the same day or week to keep your impressions fresh in your mind. It’s also helpful to simulate your daily driving conditions as much as possible, such as bringing any car seats or equipment you may have in your car daily. After your test drive, you can ask about the car’s warranty and fuel and maintenance requirements, as well as the possibility of getting an extended test drive or bringing the car to your own mechanic for a second opinion.
- Determine whether you are financing or leasing
There are benefits of both a lease and a loan. With a loan, there is no mileage limit and you are free to customize and change the car as you see fit. After completing your finance payments, you own it. Leases typically have lower upfront costs than loan payments, and at the end of the term you can return, purchase or trade the vehicle in. But keep in mind that most leases have a mileage limit, so it might not be the best option if you travel often.
- How to know if an electric vehicle is right for you
With so many major manufacturers building EVs, there are more options than ever before. However, cost, maintenance, range and charging logistics are all key factors to consider. On average, it costs about half as much to fuel a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline. But just as gas prices vary, so do electricity costs – based on your location, your driving style and the size of your battery. And the cost of an EV itself may be higher than a traditional gas vehicle, although there are options to help offset the cost like federal and local tax incentives.
When it comes to maintenance, EVs typically require less maintenance than traditional cars. EV batteries tend to be covered by 8-10 year warranties (outlasting the amount of time most people own their cars) but EV tires degrade faster due to the weight of the battery
The median range of an EV with a fully charged battery is roughly 250 miles, but that number depends on the make and model as well as other factors like weather, traffic conditions and driving style. And 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.
My advice to customers? Be open to the different options in the market. Do your research and discover all the resources available to help you understand what kind of car and financing will be best for you and your family.
For more information about the online car shopping, financing and education that Chase offers, visit autofinance.chase.com.
 U.S. Department of Energy
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