Getting ready to shop for a new car or truck? Let’s start with the good news: America’s severe car shortage may, finally, be starting to ease up. The worst of the pandemic-induced, frenzied car market may be behind us.
The bad news? Vehicles are still in relatively low supply; the global computer chip shortage and disrupted supply chains are expected to spill over into 2022; and car prices are going up.
Here are a few smart steps you can take to give yourself an edge in today’s challenging car buying market.
Step 1: Budget accordingly
With high demand and little supply, the price of a new car hit a record-high $46,036 in October, up $5,266 from last year, Kelley Blue Book reports. Negotiation is harder. The average new car sold for two percent over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). Ouch!
Setting realistic expectations is a must. And if you’re eyeing a particular car or truck, do your homework and find out how much the car costs today. Edmunds.com offers a handy price search tool that you can use to get an idea of what a specific make and model costs in your area.
Step 2: Figure out what monthly payment you can afford
Buying a car is a big investment, often the second most expensive after a house. That’s why it’s important to determine what car payment you can comfortably afford before you start seriously shopping for a vehicle.
You can use Cars.com’s car affordability calculator or PlusOne Pre-approval by Suretys to see how much car you can afford each month. More on this in a minute. And if you have a car to trade-in, factor in its value when setting a budget. Kelley Blue Book lets you look up any car’s value based on a wealth of data, including condition, mileage, options, and actual sales transactions in your zip code.
Step 3: See what’s available
With inventory being so tight, the exact car that you want—down to the trim, color, and any extra features—may not be available. Most dealers have online showrooms, take calls, and reply to texts and emails. Use all these channels to locate the best choices for you.
Pro tip: be flexible and open-minded. You may not be able to find a car that has every single feature you want right now.
Step 4: Buy something reliable
Reliability—a measurement of how often a car needs repairs—is especially important for first-time car buyers like yourself. Check out Consumer Reports or Edmunds for reliability ratings or long-term test results. Buying an unreliable car may be much less expensive at first. However, needed repairs can be surprising, be costly and break your budget. Better to go with a car or truck that just requires regular maintenance with known service fees. Our founder Josh Minsky learned this lesson the hard way. His advice: "Always buy a car that is going to last.”
Step 5: Get Pre-approved For a Monthly Payment You Can Afford
Pre-approval can be your secret weapon in today’s market. Why? Because the market is so tight car dealers are reluctant to sell cars to people who don’t have a car to trade in. They want to take in another car to sell.
PlusOne Pre-approval by Suretys gives you a maximum monthly payment number that you are approved for. Not “may” but “will” if you qualify. Dealers will know that you’re pre-approved to buy today. They won’t have to go through the effort to get you financed. This makes it quick and easy for you. And even easier for them. They like that.
Step 6: Get a Suretys PlusOne policy
After you’ve been pre-approved and found the vehicle you want, you simply convert your pre-approval to a Suretys PlusOne policy. You can apply on your mobile device or laptop wherever and whenever you like. It’s that easy. And you get a decision in about 10 minutes.
Maybe best of all, you can buy or lease the car on your own at a price you can afford.
For more information about how Suretys and our insurance policy can help you get the car you want, contact us here.