You’ve decided this is the time to buy a new vehicle. Brace yourself. The options can be overwhelming. And, when you finally decide the make, color and model of your vehicle, you’re faced with how to pay for it and getting the best deal. Even the most experienced car shopper overlooks something in the process. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve bought a car, there’s always that feeling that you might be over your head.

Avoid the common traps and be an empowered buyer. Here’s how.

Research the vehicle.

Buying a car based on a few online reviews and a test drive is a common mistake. Do your RESEARCH. And we mean go deep. Yes, your new car works well now, but what happens when the warranty ends? Are repairs costly? What are the common maintenance issues? How much extra is that panoramic sunroof? Thanks to social media, there are groups for nearly every car you can imagine. Join them and ask questions beyond what you read online. See or know someone who is driving your favorite car? Ask him or her how the car is holding up.

Be aware of your credit and financing options.

Do some financial homework of your own to determine how much you can afford in a new car. Sounds like common sense, right? Get your credit report, assess your personal expenses and give yourself a budget goal. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford and your most comfortable monthly payment before you begin the search. It’s worth the extra steps on the front end to assure you’re in good financial shape each month with your new vehicle expense.

Take it for a test drive.

Always remember you are in control of YOUR car buying experience. If you’re debating between a few vehicles, give them both a spin. If your commute involves heavy highway use, be sure to jump on a thoroughfare to test its speed and overall control. If you’re more of an in-town stop-and-go traveler, then be sure to take the test drive in an area with roundabouts, stop signs and stop lights. Have a car seat or canoe to add to the mix of the new vehicle? Be sure to check the specs of the car when you’re on the test drive to be sure your needs will fully be met with your new purchase.

At CarSnoop, we’ll do all the work for you in getting dealers to lobby for your business. Being an informed buyer with some legwork and research up front will provide you the best results.