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How To Buy a Car

A Quick and Easy Guide to Buying a Car Using Tools and Resources

A car is one of the most significant purchases any of us ever makes. And let's face it: Car buying has never been particularly easy. But at, we're trying to change that. We've developed a set of tools and resources you can use to make sure you're getting the right car at the right price — which can actually make car buying a lot more fun.

What Cars Are Right for You?

First off, you'll want to figure out what cars to shop for. To get this right, it's important to do a little self-examination. How do you typically use a car? Do you have a long commute and want great highway mileage? Or do you do a lot of city driving and need something easy to park? Maybe you want a car with the latest technology or with easy access to third-row seating. Use our "10 Steps to Finding the Right Car for You" to ensure you're making a great choice. We also have New Car Buying Guides and Used Car Best Bets to help you winnow the list.'s tools and resources help you make sure you're getting the right car at the right price  which can actually make car buying a lot more fun.'s tools and resources help you make sure you're getting the right car at the right price which can actually make car buying a lot more fun.

What Cars Can You Afford?

Of course, the car you pick also has to fit within your budget. We recommend spending no more than 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay on a car payment. If you plug that number into our Affordability Calculator, you can quickly see what price range you should consider. Read "How Much Car Can You Afford?" for more guidance on this critical decision point.

Should You Buy a New Car, Lease a Car or Buy a Used Car?

You may be wondering whether to buy or lease a new car — or whether a used car might be a smart choice. If so, we recommend this article: "Buying vs. Leasing vs. Buying a Used Car." Meanwhile, anyone shopping for a bargain should check out our Deals of the Month for the best available new car incentives and rebates.

Do Your Car Shopping on the Web

Once you've narrowed down your choices, it's time to start shopping in earnest. But don't head to the dealership just yet. You can browse cars for sale from the comfort of your home or office using the car inventory search tool. Or try our free car price quotes service to get local dealerships competing for your business.

Get a Car at the Right Price

Let's say you've found a car and you're ready to get serious. Be sure to check its True Market Value (TMV®) so you know what others are paying for similar vehicles in your area. If you're on the go, you can do this easily from your smartphone using one of our mobile apps. Be sure to check out Edmunds Price Promise®, a program that gives car shoppers a guaranteed, up-front price on a specific car.

What You Need To Know About Working With Car Dealerships

Next, check out our dealership ratings and reviews for help choosing a dealer. And make the most out of your visit by following our tips for taking a test-drive, negotiating your deal and speeding up the paperwork. Or, if you'd prefer to skip the dealership visit altogether, try New-Car Home Delivery.

In-Depth Car-Shopping Info

You can find all of these strategies and more laid out simply in our guides for buying a new car, leasing a car or buying a used car. For those in a hurry, we even have a guide to buying a new car in one day.

Personalized Car-Buying Help

If all of this is starting to make your head hurt, why not consider using a car-buying service and have someone else do the work for you? Many shoppers find that these services save them not only time but also money versus the do-it-yourself approach. At no charge, for example, you can be paired with an Edmunds car-buying expert who can take you through the whole process, or help you at any step along the way.  

You also can reach out at any time to the Live Help team for free help with specific car shopping questions. We would love to hear from you and see what we can do to make your car shopping experience the best one yet.