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Buying a new car is a big decision. There are literally hundreds of models to choose from and picking the right one can mean the difference between years of satisfaction or a few years of disappointment.
The Internet is the best way to research new cars – and also the best was to calculate the costs associated with them. Let’s have a look at six different online resources that will help you make an informed choice.
You don’t have to search hard to find car loan calculators, but not all of the tools are available or equal. Many of them only report the expected monthly payment based on the amount of your loan and your interest rate.
Car Loan Calculator goes above and beyond. It provides you not only with your monthly payment but also the sum of all your payments and an estimate of the total interest you’ll pay. The tool even generates yearly and monthly amortization schedules that tell you exactly how much principle and interest you’ll pay per month or year.
This is the only car loan calculator you need. If you’re in the market, bookmark it and reference it whenever you have questions about the total cost of a potential loan.
The American publication Consumer Reports is easily one of the best resources for consumer information in the world. Its car reliability survey is considered by the average buyer to be the final word.
You’d be mistaken if you thought that was all Consumer Reports is good for, however. The company is unique because it buys the cars it tests rather than relying on press loaner. Each car is then fully tested both on and off the track. The results are recorded and made available on its website. You’ll find information about a vehicle’s turning circle, performance and real-world fuel economy – among other things.
Better yet, the website lets you directly compare these statistics with their comparison tool. Want to see how the three best compacts on the market today stack up? Just pick them out with the comparison tool and all their vitals will be neatly arranged for your viewing pleasure. You do need to pay $5.95 for access to this and the rest of the publication’s data, but believe me, it’s a bargin.
Leasing can work out to your advantage on certain vehicles, but many people stay away from leasing because it can become confusing.
The Leaseguide.com calculator can help make your questions clear by showing you exactly how much a lease will cost you. Like the Car Loan Calculator mentioned earlier, this tool does not just show you the monthly payment. It also shows you the finance charge and the total of both the charge and all month payments. With this information you’ll be able to make a well informed decision.
With most cars the MSRP is only a starting point. From there negotiations can drive the price downward. How far down depends on the cost of the car to the dealer and on current demand for the car.
These factors aren’t found on the sticker, of course, but you can discover them using Edmunds. Just load up their website, find the car you’re interested in and then configure it as you’d like it to be equipped. Once you’re done you’ll be informed of the car’s MSRP, invoice and the current average sale price.
Edmunds even automatically factors in any current incentives. The means the price that you see listed by Edmunds is close to the price you can realistically expect to receive during negotiations.
Another of Edmund’s best tools is True Cost To Own. This calculator uses information about insurance rates, gas mileage and repair costs to calculate how much you’ll pay to own a car over a period of five years.
This works for both new and used cars, so long as the used car is less than five years old. After that Edmunds does not believe that it can predict overall costs within a reasonable degree of accuracy.
Anyone in a market for a new or late-model-year used car should check this tool out. The differences between vehicles can sometimes surprise you. Two cars with the same MSRP may have dramatically different costs after five years of ownership.
It’s easy to let yourself become too focused on the MSRP of a vehicle that you’re looking for. Cheaper often seems better – but what if the less expensive car also comes with less standard equipment? A car with a low price may end up being a poor value.
The Truedelta comparison tool helps buyers adjust for the value of features found on a new car, which can reveal hidden value in a vehicle that seem over-priced at first glance. The tool also provides a wide variety of additional data such as interior volume and consumer reviews of the models you’ve chosen to compare.
The tools above are invaluable to anyone buying a new car. Most of them are geared towards North American buyers, but some have general value to everyone looking for a car. If you know of any other great online car buying tools, or if you know of some that help international buyers, tell us about them in the comments.
You can find some additional car buying help by reading our critical look at the value of car buying tools and reading up on websites that can help you decide which car is best for your needs.