For decades, purchasing a new vehicle was straightforward: visit a dealership, negotiate a price, complete the purchase, and drive off the lot.

Nowadays, with a multitude of car buying options available, the process has become more complex. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned one, the evolving auto industry can raise many questions. Renée Horne, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Chase Auto, shares five tips to help you prepare for buying a car.

When buying a car, you need to account for various expenses such as the purchase price, insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Understanding your budget, especially if you plan to finance the purchase, is crucial to avoid straining your finances. Chase offers a range of budgeting tools and tips to help you save for your car purchase.

Like many other items, vehicles follow a price cycle. You can often find better deals at the end of the month and at the end of the model or calendar year, as dealers aim to meet quotas or clear out inventory. New models usually arrive in the fall, so instead of purchasing next year’s model in September, consider buying the current year’s model. Holidays also offer excellent opportunities for rebates and financing deals. Regardless of when you choose to buy, it’s wise to consider multiple vehicles and shop around at several dealerships to secure the best price.

This is your chance to evaluate how the vehicle looks, feels, and performs, as well as to test the interior systems and determine if it meets your needs. Schedule test drive appointments to ensure your preferred car is available, ideally arranging several test drives within the same day or week to keep your impressions fresh. Simulate your daily driving conditions as closely as possible, including bringing any car seats or equipment you regularly use. After the test drive, inquire about the car’s warranty, fuel efficiency, and maintenance requirements. You can also ask about the possibility of an extended test drive or taking the car to your own mechanic for a second opinion.

Both leasing and financing a car have their advantages. With a loan, you have no mileage restrictions and can customize or modify the vehicle as you wish. Once you complete your payments, the car is yours. Leases, on the other hand, usually come with lower upfront costs compared to loans, and at the end of the term, you have the option to return, purchase, or trade in the vehicle. However, most leases include a mileage limit, so if you drive frequently, leasing might not be the best choice for you.

With numerous major manufacturers now producing electric vehicles (EVs), the variety of options has significantly expanded. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as cost, maintenance, range, and charging logistics. Generally, charging an EV costs less than filling up a gas tank, though electricity costs can vary based on your location, driving style, and battery size. While EVs can be pricier upfront compared to traditional gas vehicles, federal and local tax incentives may help offset the cost.

Maintenance for EVs is typically lower than for traditional cars. EV batteries often come with warranties lasting 8-10 years, usually longer than most people keep their cars. However, EV tires may wear out faster due to the battery’s weight. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that a fully charged EV can have a range between 110 to 300 miles, depending on the make and model, as well as factors like weather, traffic, and driving habits. Additionally, the availability of charging infrastructure varies by location, so planning your route and knowing where charging stations are is crucial.

My advice to customers is to stay open to the various options on the market. Conduct thorough research and utilize available resources to determine the best car and financing options for you and your family.