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How to Buy a New Car in 5 Steps

There’s a lot more to buying a new car than deciding on the color, style, make, model and price. Buying a new car is fun, but there are a lot of things to consider throughout the process. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful resources available to you before walking into the dealership. Here’s one to help you go from couch to car.

1. Set a budget.
First things first. How much car can you afford? While it’s easy to think in terms of a monthly payment, consider the total price first—including taxes, fees and interest. If you have a trade-in, you should factor that in. Get pre-approved and know exactly how much you can spend and save with a low-rate Tower vehicle loan.

2. Go window shopping.
From your smartphone or computer browser, the Tower Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®, lets you shop for a car and a loan all in one place. Research a few vehicles that fit your budget, taste and lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a hybrid, an SUV or a hybrid SUV, you’ve got plenty of options. So, do some research. Watch car reviews on YouTube. See what your friends and family are driving.

At this point, you might notice that many vehicles come in different trims, with different packages and in different colors. These options can affect the price and availability of the exact vehicle you want.

Luckily with the Tower Car Buying Service, you can connect with a TrueCar Certified Dealer to receive your TruePrice on a VIN-specific vehicle so you can be sure the vehicle is on the lot before you head to the dealership.

Chances are you’re considering a few vehicles, but there’s no need to commit yet. We suggest creating a shortlist of your favorites, noting the price, important features and any other must-haves. Also, be sure to get a quote from your insurance company on your top vehicles.

3. Test drive your top three.
Here comes the fun part. Now that you’ve got a shortlist of your top vehicles, it’s time to test drive. Simply visit your local dealerships and ask to take your top vehicles for a spin. It’s a simple way to compare, contrast, and ultimately decide which car belongs in your driveway.

How important is it to test drive multiple vehicles? Very important. Even if you’ve experienced love at first drive, evaluating the competition helps put your top choice in perspective.

4. Find the best deal.
Once you know which car you want, it’s time to find the deal that’s right for you. You can do this by visiting the Tower Car Buying Service, where you can compare vehicles from multiple dealerships and get offers from each. That way, you can spend less time at the dealership and more time with your new car.

5. Finance with confidence.
It’s important not to overlook the role of auto financing in the total cost of your new car. Without the necessary cash lying around, getting in on a good loan might be the best option. But how can you figure out which is a good one and which isn’t? Use Tower’s Auto Loan Calculator to simplify the process.

And knowing where your credit score falls is key to learning whether you qualify for the best auto loan rates.

Here are three good rules about financing. They’re not hard and fast, but they’re definitely useful:

  • Keep the term of the loan as short as possible. Yes, that means higher monthly payments and lower interest rates, but as tempting as it is to stretch out a loan, the long-term interest can get you, and you’ll likely end up paying a lot more.
  • Try and put at least 20 percent down. Some dealers don’t require putting anything down at all—especially if you have good credit. A larger down payment, though, saves you money in the long run.
  • Pay for taxes, fees, and extras with cash. Dealers can roll those fees into the financing if you’d like, but that increases your loan without changing the value of your car.

Make sure everything looks good before you sign anything. Have questions about a fee? It never hurts to ask the dealer. If everything looks good, all that is left is to exchange the paperwork for keys and enjoy your new car.


Before you go car buying, apply online for a low-rate pre-approved loan to see how much you have to spend.

Shop and Research The Tower Car Buying Service, powered by TRUECar®, is a great place to find what you want.

Guaranteed Savings Choose your price from multiple offers—save your upfront price offer to your mobile device before you go to the dealership.

Redeem Savings Use your upfront price offer along with a Tower Express Loan Check at the dealership for a hassle-free car buying experience.

Receive a Loan Discount Your upfront price offer includes a special Tower member discount when you buy through the Tower Car Buying Service, and an additional 0.25% rate discount if you finance with Tower.

Protect Your Investment Drive away with peace of mind with Tower’s GAP Advantage with PowerBuy™, Extended Warranty and Loan Payment Protection.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: July 1, 2021

Resources: TRUECar

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