Buying a car can be overwhelming at the best of times. The idea of having to deal with a forceful salesperson is almost enough to make you just keep your old car. But this shouldn’t be the case.

Here are five essential tips you should know before buying a car

1. Should you get a loan?

First things first, what are the documents you need for a car loan? You will need to show quite a bit of documents, first being your proof of identity. You can usually use your license or passport for this. You will also need to prove your income from your job which can be shown via your payslips. Having credit and banking history is also a must. If your credit is bad or nonexistent you may need a co-signer. You will need to prove you live at the address you say you do – a utility bill should do the trick. Make sure to have your vehicle information at hand. If you’re going through a lender you will need to know the purchase price of the car, vehicle identification number, and the year, make and model. Don’t forget to make sure you have insurance since the dealer can not legally allow you to drive to the car off the lot if you are not fully covered.

2. Shop Around

It never hurts to window shop at multiple dealers to find the best car and price for your budget. Research the cars that you believe you may be interested in. It never hurts to brush up on some knowledge, so you don’t feel lost in the conversation. Choosing what car, you may want will depend on your needs. Do you need a van or SUV for your large family or a hot little sports car for one? You can also do an easy online search for “best cars for families” or “best cars for under $20,000.” Sites such as Autotrader can also help you narrow down your search criteria by price, model, and make. Also, if you’re planning on buying a car but don’t have the space for it – cluttered garage, busy street parking, etc. – it’s best to do a simple Google search of, “car storage near me” for peace of mind.

3. Look at the car’s history.

You wouldn’t just roll up to any car dealer when purchasing a vehicle. You want the facts. It’s good to know if your car has been in an accident, had a chip in the windshield, and know how many owners it may have had before you. Make sure you look for consumer reviews before heading out to a particular dealership. It’s important to know that you will be dealing with professionals when spending that much money. Keep in mind that just because a dealership may have been given five stars does not always mean it will be a simple transaction.

4. Get behind the wheel.

It’s so important to make sure the car you are about to buy is one you will actually want to drive. Test driving is really the only way to know how comfortable you will feel behind the wheel. Taking the car for a quick ride will help you notice things such as blind spots, how to switch on the wiper blades, and how to alternate the air conditioning. It’s also good to test the brake system by speeding up and stopping short. See how the vehicle drives in traffic, highway situations, and country roads. Giving the car a once over is a great way to double-check that all systems are a go before you make your purchase.

5. Know your rights

There are laws to protect the consumer from being sold a lemon. Most new cars will come with some sort of warranty from the automobile maker. It can depend if they offer a milage warrant or a yearly warranty. Countries like Australia, for example, do not have a law similar to Lemon Laws in the US that protect customers from products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance, so consumers in Australia do not have legal protection beyond the vehicle’s warranty.

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