Buying a car is a major investment and a long-term commitment, but many people simply head to the dealership without knowing anything about the process of buying a car. Much like any long-term commitment, people should know what they are getting into before they sign on the bottom line. Buying a car should not be a split second decision. Research is needed before the first hello to a salesman on the lot. Before you determine what color and special features your new car should have, it is important to determine what kind of car you will be buying. There are several things to consider. Are you considering reliability and performance in buying your new car? Are you committed to a certain automaker or group of automakers? Do you want a sedan or sports utility vehicle? Now, is the time in your car buying adventure to browse through websites, check magazines and look on the car lots. However, do not talk to salesman yet. In fact, plan to go to look at cars the first time on a day when the dealership is closed so that you avoid random car buying. It's not that most people intend to do impulse car buying. In fact, they plan when they can afford to do and dream about the new car. But the reality is that for many people a car is more than just a mode of transportation. It's a style statement, bragging rights and a look into their psyche all at one. So, once you have looked at cars and narrowed your car image down to just a few models, the real work of car buying begins. How thorough this work needs to be depends on how committed you are to each of those questions from earlier. Car buyers absolutely committed to safety will need to spend more time researching safety features. The key to successful car buying is to meet your wants and needs within your budget. That means conducting the research to know what this car should cost you in the end. The research portion of your car buying experience will be the most tedious and least fun part of the process. It is also the most important. Information that you will need before heading to the dealership for the fun part of the car buying experience includes: the manufacturer's suggested retail price, standard options, what options you would like to have and any rebates or special deals that are currently being offered. The most important thing about the manufacturer's suggested retail price is to know that you shouldn't pay it when buying a car. You should also know what options are considered standard, like an automatic transmission, and which are likely to be an option on the car you are buying, like an MP3 player. You should also be armed with any information that will likely affect the price of the car you are buying. For example, the American auto industry has traditionally introduced its new models in mid to late summer. Therefore, car buying in that time period can mean a great deal on a new vehicle that is last year's model. Finally, armed with the estimated costs for the car you are interested in buying, it is time to head back to the dealership and make a deal. It is important at this point to negotiate the price of the car before you discuss financing or payments. Have a good idea of what you want to pay each month and how long you are willing to commit to making payments. Most car loans are now either 72 or 84 months. Knowing your credit score and arranging financing before you set foot on the lot can also enhance your car buying experience. Then, it's simply a matter of determining what color you like. Dennis runs Car Dealer Check which has reviews on Alabama Car Dealers including Birmingham Car Dealers.