Guide to buying a new car


Use this checklist to ensure you haven’t missed any critical steps when buying a new car.
  1. Identify your wants and needs for a car
  2. Research new cars on and
  3. Find new cars on autoTRADER and use the Compare Tool to compare new car models
  4. Review consumer reports and crash tests for the cars you’ve shortlisted
  5. Use online finance and lease calculators to determine monthly payments and to help decide how you’re going to finance your car
  6. At the dealership, inspect the car thoroughly
  7. Test drive the car under different road conditions
  8. Negotiate a price, keeping in mind total cost of ownership
  9. Pay using a secure form of payment
  10. Get your insurance in place

Before You Buy A New Car

Buying a new car is exciting, but it’s also a major purchase. You want to make sure you’ve done your research and considered all important factors and information before you sign on the dotted line.

Here are some points to think about before you start the buying process.

  • Think about your wants and needs for a car - do you need many seats for carpooling? Do you want high-tech features e.g. Bluetooth? How much trunk space do you need?
  • Determine your budget for the car, taking into account total cost of ownership, i.e. car insurance, fuel economy, etc.
  • Research cars on the and websites. Use the autoTRADER Compare Tool to compare different car models on features, exterior, specs, safety and price.
  • Consider factors like fuel economy, reliability, safety performance and total cost of ownership. You can also review safety test results for cars on the autoTRADER YouTube channel
  • Think about whether it makes sense to lease or finance the new car. Consider factors like how much down payment you can afford, interest rate differences in leasing vs. financing, how much you’ll drive each year, monthly payments you can afford, how much wear and tear you expect for how you’re going to use the car e.g. transporting kids, pets, etc. Keep in mind that with leasing, you don’t own the car at any point in time.
  • Use online financing and leasing calculators to determine monthly payments taking down payment into consideration.
  • If you’re replacing your current car, list it on to sell it fast. It’s free!

How To Buy

Finding a car

Finding a car is not easy. It could take days if not weeks to find something that you like and can afford. Here are some tips to make finding a car easier:

Inspecting and Test Driving The Car

Once you’ve identified a car you are interested in, contact the dealer.

Before closing the deal

  • Go to different dealerships to make sure you’re being offered the best deal possible and also to find a dealership you’re comfortable buying from. Depending on promotions, etc. some dealerships will offer better deals than others.
  • Also shop around for financing/leasing interest rates, depending on which payment method you’ve chosen to go with.
  • Make sure you’re educated about the additional costs of ownership e.g. insurance costs, approximate fuel expenses (considering fuel grade and fuel economy), expected maintenance costs, etc.

Closing the deal

Discuss price and come to an agreement with the dealer. Do not reveal how much you’re willing to pay right from the get-go.