3 Essential Tips for Buying a Car in the Winter

Written By, NowCar Team

The winter isn't necessarily the best time to purchase a new vehicle, but some circumstances may require you to buy a car towards the end of the year. If this is the case, there are several things you should be keeping in mind.

Before you pursue a vehicle at a dealership or from an online car dealer, make sure you read through our guide to purchasing a vehicle in the winter. The tips may not only save you money, but they may keep you safe, as well...

The Winter-centric Features Are Worth Every Penny

Winter tires

Trust us. As much as you'd like to stay true to the original design of your recently purchased vehicle, you'll find yourself in a ditch if you don't equip the ride with some necessary winter features.

First and foremost, you'll want to pursue winter tires. The heavy-duty design is more capable of maintaining traction with the road, and you'll find that your driving experience is significantly easier when you ditch the standard summer tires. Furthermore, they'll keep you safe, a point that Lauren Fix, the author of "Lauren Fix's Guide to Loving Your Car," was adamant about.

"If you're not willing to make that investment, your safety is being compromised," she told BankRate.com.

If you can afford it, you should consider adding a number of other winter amenities. Heated seats will keep you warm during those freezing winter mornings, and a heated windshield will speed up the amount of time it takes to defrost your windows.

Pursue an Older Model Year

Buying a winter car

To be clear, this suggestion isn't applicable if you plan on reselling your new car. As you probably know, car values depreciate significantly year by year, even if the vehicle has barely been driven. So, if you've been thinking about pursuing a 2014 model this winter, it may not be the best investment.

However, if you plan on using the vehicle for the next decade, a previous-year model is the route to go! There's absolutely nothing wrong mechanically with the vehicles (assuming you're purchasing from a reputable source), and you'll likely receive an affordable deal. The beginning of the new year is often the slowest time for dealers, and since they're focused on moving their newest models, you'll be able to purchase a previous-year car for a reasonable price.

"You're just probably going to have a more captive audience for a salesman when you go in the winter months because they don't see many people," said Mike Quincy, an automotive specialist over at Consumer Reports. "These tactics should be effective."

Furthermore, you may just fall into a vehicle that includes a number of exclusive (and expensive) features, like any of those mentioned above.

Remember Your Budget

Remember your auto budget

As Eric Hoffman, the spokesman for Aware (Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics), told BankRate.com, January and February are the months that feature the most default car payments. That's because people often over-extend their budget during the holidays, and when you couple those expenses with a new car, you may be looking at quite the financial burden.

It's better to anticipate these purchases before you head into a dealership. That way, you can agree on a down payment that better fits into your budget, meaning you won't be struggling when it's time to send in those monthly payments.

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