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How to Buy a Luxury Car

bentley driving down road

Almost everybody dreams of owning a luxury vehicle at some point in their life. Luxury vehicles are fun to drive, fun to ride in, and look great. Plus, you get to be seen driving around in a beautiful car that other people wish they had.

That said, new luxury vehicles aren’t for everyone. They can cost a large amount of money, and the maintenance and upkeep is usually a lot more expensive than that of a more modest vehicle. Plus, a lot of luxury vehicles aren’t quite as practical, due to the fact that they often have fewer seats and worse gas mileage, and you’re less likely to want to put the car through the rigors of a long road trip.

If a new luxury vehicle is right for you, you’re in for a treat. However, you should still follow a certain protocol before purchasing a luxury vehicle, to make sure that you are getting the right car at the right price.

Part 1 of 4: Calculate your budget

Before you begin researching and finding your new luxury car, it’s important to calculate your budget so you know exactly what kind of luxury car you can afford. Doing the financial part first will save you time and energy finding a car you love only to find it’s out of your price range. This is also an important step to ensure you don’t overextend yourself financially even if you qualify for higher payments.

Step 1: Calculate your monthly payments. You can find a variety of sites online that offer calculators to help you figure out how much your car payments will be, including trade-in value and annual interest rate. Some sites to use include:

fees calculator

Calculate the total amount that the tax, title, tags, and fees will be when you calculate your monthly payments to get an accurate amount. CarMax has a useful calculator for figuring out how much these fees will cost you.

new and used price chart comparison

Step 2: Find what car fits your budget. After you’ve established how much money you can spend on a car,

Part 2 of 4: Select the luxury vehicle that you wish to purchase

top 10 luxury rank

Step 1: Research car rankings. Start your decision-making process by researching how popular luxury cars have been ranked recently. This will give you a general idea of what’s popular and what other people are buying.

This gives you a jumping-off point for deciding if you want to buy a luxury car that other people seem to love or if you want to buy a more unique car for yourself.

comparisons between jaguar and audi

Step 2: Compare different models. Make a chart to compare the features of the cars you like. Include lines for horsepower, torque, fuel economy, and other key metrics for each car.

Step 3: Make a list of cars you like. Chances are, you’ve been dreaming about owning a specific make or model of luxury vehicle. Make a list of all the cars you like and apply them to the steps below.

features listed in luxury cars

Step 4: Choose your features. Make a list of all the features you want in your luxury car - after all, a large part of the reason people want luxury cars in the first place is for the extra features they supply.

list of cars with massaging seats

Step 5: Make a list of cars that have the features you want. Find out which luxury cars have the features that you want and make a list for each feature.

car feature checklist

Step 6: Make a spreadsheet of all the cars and features. Put all the data that you’ve found about each feature and compile it into one spreadsheet so you can see which cars have which features at a glance.

edmunds review of audi a3

Step 7: Read reviews: Read as many reviews as you can find about the specific cars on your list.

  • Edmunds began as a book in the 1960s and is the highest ranked third-party automotive website by JD Powers
  • AutoTrader attracts over 14 million users each month and has helpful calculators to help you with the review and buying process
  • Car and Driver is known for its depth and rigor and offers critical reviews of cars
  • The Car Connection provides a score for each car it reviews and and offers an easy to read list of likes and dislikes
  • Consumer Reports has been publishing reviews and comparisons of products for 80 years and accepts no advertising and has no shareholders, so you can be sure the reviews are unbiased

Do your due diligence to make sure that you find the car that is best for you. It may be the one you wanted all along, but you may be surprised by a different vehicle.

Step 8: Take your time. Sit on your decision for a few weeks. With a big purchase like a luxury vehicle, it can be very easy to fall in love quickly, and think a little bit irrationally.

You might find a car that you are sure is perfect, but after a week or two you may realize that that particular model is a little too impractical for your life. After you’ve decided on the car you think you want, wait for two weeks; if you’re still sure that it’s the right vehicle for you, then you’re ready to buy it.

Part 3 of 4: Finding a dealership with your chosen luxury vehicle

luxury vehicle - 10

Step 1: Check your local dealerships. Once you’ve chosen the luxury vehicle that you would like to purchase, check your local dealerships.

If the vehicle is available at a local dealership, you will be able to get it more quickly, and you won’t have to pay a shipping price.

Call your local dealerships, check their ads in the newspaper, or visit them. Many luxury dealerships also have their entire inventory available on their website.

  • Tip: If you are able to find your vehicle locally, make sure to take it for a test drive before you purchase it.

Step 2: Check out other dealerships. Even if the car you want is at one of your local dealerships, you should still check out some out of town dealers.

By being thorough in your search, you may be able to find the vehicle for a much better price, or with options or color schemes that you prefer.

  • Tip: If you find the luxury vehicle that you want, but it’s out of town, you can still go visit it and take it for a test drive. During this process, you can help figure out what features you would like for your car so now is the time to refine the list of features you made in Part 1.

Part 4 of 4: Purchasing your luxury vehicle

When you know how much you can spend on a luxury vehicle, it’s time to find a lender. It’s prudent to get a loan amount pre-approved so that when you visit the dealership you have an idea if you can afford a specific vehicle.

Step 1: Find a lender. Compare rates and terms with several lenders and select the one that offers the best option.

  • Tip: It is also a good idea to know what your credit score is before talking to a lender. Your credit score helps to determine what kind of annual percentage rate, also known as the interest rate, that you qualify for.

A good credit rating means you can get a lower overall rate, paying less money over the duration of the loan.

You can check your credit online for free using Credit Karma.

Step 2: Apply for a loan. Apply for a loan and get a notice of approval. This lets you know what kind of price range you can look at for new vehicles.

Step 3: Know your trade-in value. If you have another car that you want to trade in, find out the value of your trade-in. Add that amount to your approved loan amount to see how much you can spend on a new car.

You can find out how much your car is worth on the Kelley Blue Book site.

Step 4: Negotiate a fair price. The price of luxury vehicles is not as set in stone as it is with entry-level vehicles. You can likely negotiate with the seller to find a fair price that you both agree on.

  • Warning: A car salesperson will always try to get you to pay the highest price, but it’s in their best interest to sell you the vehicle, even if they have to lower the price by a large amount. Never purchase a vehicle at a price that you are uncomfortable paying. If they refuse to lower to a price that you’re willing to pay, leave and find a new dealership to give your business to.

Step 5: Sign the paperwork. Carefully read the bill of sale and contract to make sure everything is correct. Only sign when you are completely satisfied.

Step 6: Line up your insurance. Call your insurance company to add your new car to your current policy.

You also need to purchase GAP insurance to cover you until your vehicle is covered. This is usually offered by the dealership for a small fee.

The dealership should also make you out some temporary tags to display until you can get your vehicle registered and put on a license plate.

DMV registration state select

Step 7: Register your vehicle. Register the car and pay sales tax with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Purchasing a luxury vehicle is a great experience but it requires a little extra forethought than buying a normal car. If you want to buy a Mercedes but there’s no Mercedes shop where you live, you’ll have to find a mechanic who specializes in your car. Before you buy a luxury car talk to a mechanic about the long-term maintenance requirements for the car you choose.

Some additional costs associated with buying luxury cars include:

  • Replacing brake sensors when performing brake replacements
  • Required use of Premium Only fuel
  • Leather interior upgrades require additional care to keep the leather in good condition
  • Headlight replacements can be as much as ten times more expensive than in a regular car
  • Some transmission services require special equipment
  • Insurance and registration fees are more expensive
  • Tire replacements can cost double or triple what a regular car costs
  • Alignments can be more expensive due to additional computer and steering wheel recalibration

Rocco Lovetere, one of YourMechanic’s technicians, has some advice for what to keep in mind when buying a luxury car: “when it comes to luxury, there will be a give and take. If that luxury vehicle has options for a smaller engine and smaller wheel size, this will save your pocket at the gas pump and when it comes time to replace tires. Look for the manufacturers that include maintenance program. It covers things like oil changes, spark plugs and filters for the first 3-5 years. This will definitely help you save down the road. Choosing to purchase a luxury vehicle that is made in America can cut future repair costs because the parts are available locally.”

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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