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How to Buy a Car

Looking for a new—or new-to-you—automobile? Let AAA help you select the best one.

young woman in green dress poses at front of green car, picture
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NARROW YOUR CHOICES How many people does your car need to carry? Which matters more to you, fuel efficiency or performance? How do you feel about advanced driving assistance? Answering these and other basic questions will simplify your search.

MAKE A BUDGET Calculate how much you can swing as a monthly payment, including interest rates, insurance, and other operating costs, and stick firmly to that limit. A car you can't afford is a car you shouldn't buy.

LOOK OUT FOR LEMONS When shopping for a used car, don't just kick the tires. Compare its market value to its listed price; use its vehicle identification number to get a history report; and have it inspected by a trustworthy mechanic, such as one at a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. Take it on a test drive with the whole family to check comfort, visibility, and handling, since they'll be riding in it, too.

RELY ON AAA Take the stress out of car shopping with our buying service, AAA AutoSource (available in Oregon). It lets you research and search for vehicles and provides vital information such as market prices, crash safety ratings, and consumer reviews. The program can also help you trade in or sell your current car.

This article was first published in July/August 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.