Top Tips When Buying a Vehicle in Arizona

Top Tips When Buying a Vehicle in Arizona


There’s nothing more exciting than being a new car owner. But getting there can be pretty overwhelming. Car shopping is a process that takes time, research, and reflection on your wants and needs. Your search should start well before your first test drive.

As you get started, these helpful car-buying tips will steer you in the right direction:

Make a Wishlist

The first step to buying a car is to clarify what you’re looking for. It can be hard to find everything in one car, let alone within budget. This list will likely evolve as you explore your options. You might start out looking at hybrids but end up with a traditional compact that gets over 40 miles per gallon.

Research Loans

The average cost is over $38,000 for a new car and roughly $20,000 for a used one. Unless you pay in full, you’ll want to learn more about your payment options. Check with potential lenders, credit unions, and automakers to find the most favorable loans. Be sure you understand the monthly installments and interest payments of a short- or longer-term loan before committing to one.

Budget Wisely

There’s more to the cost of owning a car than what’s on the price tag. It’s illegal to drive in Arizona without auto insurance. There are also maintenance and repair costs to consider. A Google search will tell you which cars are more costly to maintain. There will also be smaller costs such as license fees. Your goal is to get a more accurate sense of whether this car will continue to be in your monthly budget down the road.

In addition to negotiating for a better price, there might be incentives that could bring the cost of your dream car into your price range. Many automakers offer incentives such as “cash back,” special financing deals, or customer loyalty discounts that can save you as much as several thousand dollars off the purchase price of a new car.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Alternative fuel vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in Arizona. When making a budget, you might want to consider the perks of an alternate fuel vehicle. You’ll save money on gas and will be eligible for a reduced vehicle license tax. Your new alternate fuel or electric car will come with high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) freeway lane privileges and be exempt from emissions testing requirements.

Bring a Checklist

When you start looking at cars in person, bring a list of questions with you, as well as that wish list we talked about. Sometimes just glancing at a car or sitting in the driver’s seat is enough to know whether you’re still interested. Keep notes on which cars meet your requirements and which don’t. Websites like Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book can help you narrow down what to look for in new and used cars.

Consider Weather and Road Conditions

It’s important to consider what it will be like driving the vehicle in all seasons and conditions.

If you go on long road trips, maybe you’ll want a model with cool new climate control features to survive Arizona’s unforgiving summer heat. For off-road driving you might need four-wheel drive to handle the conditions. Make sure your new car matches your lifestyle as well as the local climate.

Do Test Drives

There’s a lot you can tell about a car from a brief test drive. Things to look for include:

  • Comfort. How does the seat feel? Are you comfortable getting in and out?
  • Road conditions. If possible, drive on various roads, on hills, and on highways.
  • Brakes. Try it in stop-and-go traffic. Even in a used car the breaks should feel new.
  • Visibility. Some cars have better visibility than others. You want to feel safe and in control in traffic.

Get Car History

More used cars are sold each year than new ones. While it might look like a great deal, be cautious and do your homework. Dealerships offer some history on used cars they sell – for instance, if there are any outstanding recalls. They should be willing to cover the cost of any necessary repairs.

Other sources of information:

  • Maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop
  • Mechanic inspection for mechanical soundness and safety
  • Independent review of a car’s history

The Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) can provide a vehicle’s odometer data and certain damage history. Additionally, Arizona MVD will check to make sure:

  • You have the most recent title
  • There are no existing or hidden liens
  • The title is properly signed off
  • The vehicle isn’t in need of an emissions test

Watch Online Demos

Having trouble choosing? While you read up on different makes and models, take advantage of the countless videos online that demonstrate them being test driven. Look for reviewers that are independent and aren’t trying to sell a particular type of car. It’s a great way to learn about trunk space, leg room, dashboard functions, and other interior details without leaving home.

Take Your Time

Maybe you already know what you want. For many people, though, it can take months to find the right car that checks most or all the boxes on your wish list. Avoid making an impulse purchase. Remember, a car is an investment that should be made wisely. You’ll know when you’ve found the perfect car for you and your family.

Visit AZ Auto for more information on titling and registering your new vehicle.