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women test driving a car – shop with confidence after viewing our car buying checklist

Car Buying Checklist – Your Guide to Prepared Shopping

Whether you plan on leasing or buying a new car, it’s a big decision. We put together a simple guide to help you conquer car buying. Whether you’re unsure what features you really want, or you’re mulling over which financing option is right for you, we can help you narrow it down.

View our car buying checklist below to prepare, or download the ‭printable version for your records.

  1. Do your research

    Think about what kind of vehicle will serve you now and three to five years down the road.

    • Visit to browse GM vehicles
    • Find what fits your lifestyle
    • Find a GM dealer
  2. Choose your features

    Add-ons and upgrades allow you personalize your vehicle.

    • Review trim levels and add-ons
    • Prioritize desired features
    • Try out key features at the dealership
  3. Calculate your vehicle budget

    As you get ready to lease or buy a new car, truck or SUV, don’t forget to estimate the cost of the following:

    • Down payment (if applicable)
    • Monthly payment
    • Insurance
    • Gas, tolls, parking
    • Regular maintenance
  4. Decide whether to lease or buy

    Both financing options have their benefits, and the “right” choice depends on your situation and preferences.

    You might consider LEASING if you ...
    • Drive a predictable amount of miles.
    • Enjoy driving the latest model every few years.
    • Prefer a lower monthly payment.
    You might consider BUYING if you ...
    • Don’t want to worry about mileage limits.
    • Aren’t concerned about fixing every scratch or dent.
    • Like the idea of owning your vehicle free and clear after you fulfill your finance contract.
  5. Apply for financing

  6. Visit the dealership

    Now that you know what you want and how you’ll pay for it, it’s time to see your new car in person.

    • Gather your driver’s license and proof of insurance.
    • Test-drive the vehicles you’re interested in.
    • Talk to your dealer about next steps.
  7. Pick up your car

    Are you ready to take that dream car home?

    • Remember your down payment, prequalified financing letter (if applicable) and insurance card.
    • You may also need proof of employment, residency and income.
    • Got a trade-in? Don’t forget the title, registration, keys, account information and owner’s manual.
Kelly Schaefer Hill
By Kelly Schaefer Hill, GM Financial

GM Financial’s Kelly Schaefer Hill is a seasoned road warrior with a history of long road trips and early morning drives. When she’s not belting out an alternative rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” to her daughters, she's digging into digital marketing data.

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