Buying your first car is exciting. It’s also nerve-wracking and confusing. From the first test drive to the day you drive your new car home, there are many things you should consider. Buying a first car can be fun and exciting – however, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. The next five tips will guide you toward making an educated purchase.
There are many options available when it comes to financing your car. Make sure you’re aware of all your financing options before you decide on a loan. Here are the main types of financing:
Get preapproved for a loan
Get help from your bank or credit union by applying for a car loan preapproval before shopping for cars so you know exactly how much you can spend.
Cash or check
You can pay for your car in cash or with a check. This is the simplest and most common way to pay for a car, but it’s not always the best choice. You’ll have to put down money upfront, which means less capital at your disposal during the life of the loan — and fewer years in which you could be paying off debt instead of saving for retirement or other goals.
Financing through an auto dealer
Dealerships often offer financing through their banks or finance companies, which typically come with higher interest rates than those you might get from a credit union or bank. If you’ve been preapproved by one of these lenders, ask about refinancing when you start looking at vehicles at dealerships — they may have better rates than what they offered previously.
Leasing through an auto dealer
If you only plan to keep a vehicle for three years or less (and don’t want the hassle of selling or trading in), leasing may be an option for you.
2. Research and Test Drive
Before heading out to buy a car, it’s important to do your research. Look at reviews online and read up on different models and brands before deciding which one is right for you. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, take some time to test drive a few cars before making a decision. This will help ensure that you find a car that fits well with your lifestyle.
When you’re ready to start shopping around for your new ride, be prepared with some questions in mind. It’s always good to know what kind of engine power or other features are available on different models within your budget so that you know exactly what features matter most to you when looking at different makes and models from dealerships across the country.
3. Consider Whether to Buy New or Used
When you’re buying a car for the first time, there are two main options: new or used. New cars are usually more expensive than used ones, but they tend to last longer and generally have fewer problems with them after they leave the lot.
Used cars can be cheaper, but they might have been driven hard by their previous owners, so they may have more wear and tear than a newer model would have had at the same mileage when it was sold new.
4. Next, It’s Time to Do an Inspection
This should be done by a mechanic who is not associated with the dealer. If you don’t know any mechanics, try asking around for recommendations or check out Yelp.
Next, open up the hood of the car and look at the engine. A new car should not have any oil leaks or signs of damage from previous accidents. Check all the belts and hoses for wear and tear. Look for any signs of smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe — this may indicate that there are problems with the engine.
The tires should also be inspected closely — they should have even wear across their entire surface, with no signs of excessive wear on one side or another. The brakes should not have any sticking or grinding noises when applied gently while driving at low speeds.
Finally, check under the car to make sure no fluids are leaking onto the ground from underneath it or that there are no grease stains on your hands after touching certain parts under the hood (such as camshaft covers).
Always carry out an inspection when buying your first car
5. It’s Time to Negotiate
Negotiating a price on a car is no different than negotiating a price on anything else. You’re going to want to do as much research as possible before making an offer.
If you’re not familiar with how much cars typically sell in your area, there are many resources available online where you can find out the average cost of new and used cars by year, make, and model.
Once you have some idea of the average cost of vehicles similar to the one you’re looking at, use that information as leverage when negotiating with the dealer. Keep in mind, though, that dealerships are notorious for marking up their cars’ prices by thousands of dollars above what they paid for them, to begin with — so don’t expect them to give you too much of a discount off their asking price.
If you follow these steps we’ve outlined here, you should be in a better position to take into account all of the factors and make a decision. But the final factor that is ultimately important is your gut instinct. Your first car should be right for you, and hopefully, these tips will help you give that some thought.
Check out: What Reliable Cars Are the Most Affordable to Drive Right Now?
Author: Samantha Higgins
Samantha Higgins is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction.