Up to 60% of the car-buying process occurs online as research before actually making a purchasing decision. But what exactly should you be researching? There are a lot of factors that go into whether a car would be a good choice for you and your family or not, including safety features, age, price, etc.

Here are a few things you should consider when buying:

What to Consider When Buying a New Car

Financing

Before you head to the dealership, it’s a good idea to get a sense of how much of a down payment you can realistically put down and how much of a monthly payment you can afford to make. You can also do some research into available auto loans to see what you’d likely qualify for.

Shop Around

Instead of going in unprepared, research some of the cars you may be interested in before heading to the dealership. If you’re not sure where to start, try a broad search such as ‘best cars for families’ and then narrow down your options from there. Be aware of personal bias when it comes to dealerships. 54% of consumers say they would buy from a dealership that gives them a good experience whether it had the lowest price or not.

Check Your Credit Score

Knowing what your credit score is will help you a lot at the negotiating phase of buying the car you’ve decided on, especially when it comes to interest rates. Being aware of the financial aspect of car buying can even help your family save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

Research Your Trade-in Value

Taking too little for your car at trade-in is a very common mistake that car buyers make. Don’t wait for a salesperson to tell you what your old car is worth. Kelly Blue Book is a great resource for finding out your car’s assessed value ahead of time and skipping over the haggling at the dealership.

Test Drive

It’s always a good idea to test drive a car, even if you’re already familiar with the make and model. A test drive will usually reveal any noticeable squeaks or rattles that can cause you a headache down the line, and helps you make sure that the car is in good working order and is comfortable for you to drive.

Inspect Car Histories

Don’t assume that a car is issue-free just because it’s sitting on a well-reviewed dealer’s lot. Services like CARFAX are a good place to start because they help you get a good overview of the car’s life from the first purchase forward. It may also be a good idea to check the title, which can be done online through the DMV.

Repair Records

Repair records can tell you a lot about a particular make and model, specifically if the car you’re considering is known to be reliable or is prone to issues and breakdowns.

Warranties and Returns

It’s always a good idea to know your rights when making any major purchases. Do you need to supplement your warranty? Does your state have a ‘lemon law’? Finding these things out now can save you a lot of stress in the future.

Rounding out the lifestyle trio, furniture is the third most expensive item a person will buy during their lifetime, coming in right behind a house and a car. As one of the ‘big three’, a car is a major purchase and really shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if you don’t have a lot of disposable income to burn. Take your time to research the car you actually want, know your own trade-in value, and get a handle on your finances such as your credit score. Buying a new car is always a stressful endeavor, but you can make it easier on yourself by putting in a little research before heading to the dealership.