Car-shopping steps after visiting an auto show


Car dealer and car buyer sitting in car


An auto show is a valuable place to get first impressions, compare vehicles side by side and, ultimately, get a better picture of what you next car purchase might be.

To make the most of the information gathered, here are some tips for your next car-shopping steps.


Read ratings and reviews

Check out expert and consumer reviews of the vehicles you’re most interested in. Use sources such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book to find out their strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to the competition.


Look up pricing and model options

See what model options are available, what comes as standard and what extras and packages there may be. Review the available colors, too, along with pricing. Many automakers will enable you to build and price your car on their website.


Write a pros and cons list

Consider putting together a pros and cons list, especially if it’s hard to decide on a clear favorite. Comparing the relative merits and shortcomings of each model could help to uncover the best option.


Take a test-drive

Some auto shows offer ride-and-drive events where visitors can test models in the grounds of the show or in the area. Even if you took part in one of these, visiting a dealership for a test-drive will give you the chance to evaluate the vehicle more thoroughly. Take the vehicle on a variety of roads, from highways to city streets, to see how it performs.


Decide what you’re doing with your current vehicle

Money from the sale of your current car can make a useful contribution to the cost of your next one. Think about whether you want to trade in, which is convenient, or sell privately, which may get you a higher price. Look up your vehicle’s trade-in and private-sale values at sites like NADA Guides and to help you decide. If your car is financed, also check whether you’re upside down on the note – when you owe more than the vehicle is worth. If so, consider whether you should wait until you have positive equity to buy another car, or would still like to trade in with negative equity.


Work out what you can afford

If you intend to finance your new car, auto loan calculators enable you to estimate what you may be able to afford as a total auto loan amount and as a monthly payment. Keep in mind that you may want the loan amount to include any optional extras you decide on. Adjust factors such as loan term, APR and down payment to see how the numbers change.


Get preapproved

Getting preapproved for a car loan may save you time and money at the dealership, and is an approach recommended by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Online lender RoadLoans makes it easy to apply whenever it suits you, with no pressure. It takes just a few minutes and we provide instant decisions. Once at the dealership, you can focus on getting the right car and negotiating the best deal possible.


Visit the dealer well prepared

With your research complete and financing arranged, you can visit the dealership and confidently shop for your next vehicle. If approved for financing with RoadLoans, print your loan documents and visit the preferred dealership listed inside, or use our dealer locator to find another. We work with 14,000 auto dealerships nationwide.


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