Thinking of buying a car? It might seem a bit intimidating at first, especially if it’s your first time. Purchasing a car is not a walk in the park if you come unprepared. But you can make things easier if you follow our car buying lesson plan that we’ve prepared for you below.

1. Do a pre-assessment first.

It’s better to purchase your car via bank loans, since most dealers typically mark-up in-house financing loans by about 2% on the average vehicle purchase. You’ll get to save more if you get a loan directly from the bank, so before you start, make sure to go to your bank and ask a loan pre-assessment. This will show you how much you can afford, and what monthly amortization best suits your budget.

2. Do your research.

Once you’ve done a pre-qualifying loan assessment, it’s time to do your research before buying a new, or your first car.

Good, proper research is one of the most important things you can do when you are thinking of buying a car. And it doesn’t matter if you already have an idea about the make and model of your intended vehicle. At this point in time, you don’t have to look for the best price here; what’s more important is for you to get a feel if the car’s price is within your budget.

Researching buying a car involves three things:

  1. Identifying reliable sources of information. A reliable source of information is a person or website that can give consistently accurate information that can help you with your research. They are credible because they are considered experts in the car auto industry, so you can trust the information and judgment that they give you. Carmudi gives great car advice and comprehensive reviews to help you during the car buying process.

  2. Be careful with details - don’t rush when you’re doing your research before buying a car. Take your time, write things down, and make them as detailed as possible. Spread out your car research over a few days—don’t do them all in one sitting. The last thing you want is to suffer from information overload and make the wrong decision in the end.

  3. Verify what you know. Once you find useful information, try to verify them using at least two trustworthy sources. This is especially true when checking for a vehicle’s car history.

When doing your car buying research, particularly when deciding which model you want to buy, the best places to go to are:

  • The car manufacturer’s website
  • Consumer reviews
  • Car websites
  • Car magazines
  • Vehicle experts, or those who are knowledgeable about the car you want

Visit sites that give you a comprehensive overviews about each car’s features and benefits. Sites like Carmudi are the best ones to start with.

Researching buying a car

3. Narrow down your choices

Once you have narrowed your search to one or two vehicles, the next thing you need to research are prices. Now is the time to search for the best car deals and the lowest prices. Sites like Carmudi PH can be an important tool in helping you compare car prices side-by-side. You can also go to the car’s specific website and use some of their online tools, such as auto loan calculators and sample computations. From there, you can start looking for dealers or private sellers who are offering the best price for the car you want to buy.

4. Test drive the car

Around 90 percent of car buyers test drive first, and if you’re smart, you’ll also do the same. There are many obvious reasons why it’s so important to test drive your vehicle and factor it into your car buying lesson plan, but the most important reason to do this is to see how comfortable and safe it is to drive. If, for some reason, you get that weird, nagging feeling that there’s something “off” or “strange” during the drive itself, then move on. You should feel 100% sure that it’s the right car for you—nothing more, nothing less.

By the way, if it’s going to be a family car, then take the test drive with you and your family. If you have children, then make sure to take them along with you as well. The last thing you want is to have your kids constantly complaining that the car seat is too “lumpy” or “stuffy”. Besides, their honest assessment will be valuable when you make your decision. Aside from comfort, look for the following features as well:

How smooth and quiet a car is during idle times (and even when moving). How clear the view is from each mirror. How straight your line view is of all the dashboard gauges. How all the controls are functional, easy, comfortable and accessible to use. How responsive the car is when you use the brakes and accelerator. How safe and “child-friendly” it is.

5. Negotiate the Price

Visit or call dealers and inquire if they can match the price quote you’ve gotten from your research. When you ask for a quote, remember to include all the hidden and direct fees so you can get an accurate price. Another way to ask for a quote is to email their sales department and do your negotiations through email.