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Car Shopping Guide: What to Look for When Shopping for a New Car

Getting a new car is exciting. Buying that new car can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for.

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by Team Onlia
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So, you’re in the market for a new car. That means you’re going to get to enjoy that new car smell for at least a few months. It’s the best. And you’ll enjoy it so much more if you’re confident that you chose the right new car to buy.

Follow these few quick tips to make sure you get what you really want (and need) from your new car.

Get pre-approved for a car loan before you shop

Save time and stress by going in knowing what you can afford to spend. Just as you’ll shop around for your new ride, you’ll want to shop around for the best rates from potential lenders.

Check with several lenders to get the lowest interest rate. Once you have loan approval, you'll know how much you can spend. You'll also have an interest rate you can use to compare with those offered by the new car dealer's financing. In some cases, the dealer may offer the best financing option.

Check how much each car on your wish list costs to insure

Some car brands are more expensive to insure than others. For example, the Nissan Kicks, Chevy Spark and Kia Rio are the three least expensive cars to insure in Ontario, whereas the GMC Sierra, Chevy Silverado and Ford F150 are amongst the least expensive trucks to insure.

You should absolutely consider this, as your car insurance costs could make or break your budget and influence the car you buy.

Incidentally, your insurance can be less expensive across the board if you choose digital direct insurance, like from Onlia. And Onlia car insurance can be even cheaper if you drive with the Onlia Insurance app that can put up to $480 cashback in your pocket every year.

Look for safety features

Ultimately, this is the most important aspect of any car purchase, new or otherwise. And new cars have some impressive safety technology that typically improves with every new model release.

You should not consider a vehicle that doesn’t have:

  • Adaptive cruise control. It detects vehicles ahead and adjusts speed to maintain a safe following distance.
  • Adaptive headlights. As you turn, these headlights adjust to light the road ahead.
  • Automatic parking. Sensors detect obstacles and adjust steering to guide vehicles safely into parking spaces.
  • Backup cameras. They help you see behind your car to avoid collisions. 
  • Forward collision warning. Radar, lasers or camera sensors detect when a crash is about to occur, alerting the driver. Some systems automatically apply the brakes.
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Consider size

This is more than what may or may not fit in your driveway or parking spot.

For example, heavier cars tend to use more gas by sustaining less damage in an accident, so you’ll pay more on the regular, but possibly less after a crash. And the reverse it also true: smaller cars take less gas but will sustain more damage. It’s the same for trucks, with the added consideration that small trucks tend to roll more often.

Larger vehicles also have a larger blind spots in front, behind, and on each side. It’s important to test drive and make sure your comfortable – and feel safe – driving your new ride, especially if you’re planning to upsize.

Research cost of repairs

It’s not as simple as “foreign cars are harder or more expensive to repair,” because some locally made cars can be just as tough or tougher to service. That degree of difficulty will be reflected in your insurance premium.

Find a dealer willing to negotiate

The MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) you see on a car manufacturer’s website is just that: a suggestion.

The MSRP is meant to be a guideline for consumers to wrap their heads around what a car generally costs. But you have more wiggle room than you think with a new car dealer, so you should be looking for that dealer willing to play ball with you.

Often, the best time to buy is during end-of-the-year sales, when dealers need to make room for newer models. And when you go, stick to negotiating the actual price of the car rather than the monthly payment so you don’t lose sight of the full amount you'll be paying over time. And if a dealer can’t meet you at least half-way, find another dealer.

Enjoy your new vehicle!

And don’t forget that you can be insured with Onlia by tomorrow, and you can do it online all without having to call anyone.

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