Top 5 Tips for Getting a Car in 2020


Posted: April 02, 2020 | Word Count: 631

Getting a car is a pretty big move, made all the more daunting due to the health threat and financial uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

Still, you have places to go. And with public transportation and ride-sharing a definite no-go for now, a car is probably your best bet. With all of this to consider — not to mention getting a good deal — here are five tips that experts say everyone should keep in mind when looking for a car in 2020.

Now More Than Ever, Don’t Buy New

We are finally waking up to what our parents always told us: going with a pre-owned vehicle is the smart choice.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average new car will set you back about $37,000, while one that’s used (and identical in nearly every way) comes in at a considerably lower $20,000 or so.

A new car also depreciates like crazy when it leaves the lot. In fact, new cars lose around 20-30% of their value in just the first year, and are worth about half of their sticker price after three years.

Those are just a couple of the reasons that more people are now getting used cars — with a record 62% of prime customers opting for pre-owned over new.

Don’t Take Out Crazy Loans

Nowadays, about half of vehicles are bought with loans. And in order to keep payments low, Americans are drawing them out longer than ever, with an average loan term of over half a decade.

This situation leaves you throwing away a ton of cash on interest over the years of the loan — and left with few options for getting the debt off your shoulders if your financial situation or ability to pay changes.

It’s no wonder there’s a national auto loan crisis, with a record 7 million Americans who are 90 days or more behind on their car payments.

Explore Subscriptions

Car subscription services are a popular, no-loan way to get a car in hard-to-predict times, letting you drive month-to-month and simply walk away when you want.

One of the most popular subscription services, Fair, even lets you complete the whole process of getting a car entirely on your phone without leaving your house.

You can get approved in-app, shop for the car you want, sign for it with your finger, and even have it delivered to your driveway for free — with no long-term commitment, negotiation or even physical paperwork.

Fair has over 20 different car brands on its app — all of them less than five years old and with fewer than 50,000 miles. In addition, routine maintenance, 24/7 roadside assistance and a limited warranty are all included in each car’s monthly payment.

Do Your Research

There are a number of great online resources available for consumers to find not only the best car price, but the best year, make and model.

Websites like Edmunds offer forums where consumers can compare where and what other people paid for similar vehicles, while resources like Carfax and J.D. Power provide valuable information on your car’s history.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website even offers an online tool to find out if the individual vehicle has had any safety issues or recalls.

Get the Full Expense Picture

Online loan calculators are a simple way to get an estimated figure for what loan payments may end up adding in principal and interest.

Additionally, you need to consider auto insurance in your car’s overall expense. The average cost is $1,548 a year, but that varies with the carrier, the driver’s history and the vehicle type.

Repair costs can also add to your bill, as a 2017 study from AAA showed the average repair bill is between $500 and $600.

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