Buying a first car is a process filled with uncertainty, but it is part of growing up; everyone with a car today had to buy their first car at some point. The good news is that now you have lots more information to make the process easier. Below is a compilation of four of the most important tips to remember when you're setting out to get that new ride.
1. Make your budget realistic
The ideal situation is to save/invest enough to buy your car in cash, but most often you'll need some sort of financing. This means that you not only have to consider the actual cost of the car, but also the cost of repayment vis-à-vis other basic expenses.
From your monthly earnings, deduct what you need for food, shelter, clothing, insurance, entertainment, credit card payments and other existing obligations. What you have left should cover car payments, insurance, auto-service and fuel (buying a new car comes with a warranty, so you may not have to worry about maintenance for a while). Many first-time buyers erroneously consider the car payment as their only expense when budgeting, only to find themselves stuck because they can't finance other car-related expenses.
2. Get financing
You have a host of financing options for your new car, so don't take your dealer's option without looking around. The problem with young buyers is having marginal or no credit history, which can make borrowing quite a challenge. Find out your credit rating and correct any errors/non-payments that are affecting your credit score. Decide on the length of time you want to pay for the car, and factor in all costs related to the purchase and ownership of the car.
Whether using a bank, credit union or other financier, it's important to have your financing options lined up before you start looking around for a car. You don't want to fall in love with a ride out of your price range and then have to settle for something lower.
3. Establish needs and wants
Because it's your first car, try to manage your expectations (unless you have no limit). Riding into the sunset in a two-seater convertible may look cool, but would it serve your everyday needs? On the other hand, don't be too sensible like buying a pickup so that you can carry around your stuff when you need to move. Things like moves don't happen often, so you can plan to rent a car for those occasions, rather than remain stuck with a functional vehicle you don't really love the rest of the time.
From your needs that you've listed, you can also settle for some things you really want in a car – after all, you you'll own it for a while. Be prepared to sacrifice some of your non-essential expenses so that you can have at least one or two things you absolutely love about the car. Skip a few nights-on-the-town to get that stereo in your car or whatever else you really want.
4. Don't buy before you drive
You have a host of online resources to check out reviews and features of various car models, but don't pay for a car you haven't driven. There's no substitute for getting behind the wheel and actually going on the road. Don't just drive around the lot or through a 5-minute pre-arranged test-driving route suggested by the salesman either. Invest at least half an hour or more and drive around various routes and terrains. You'll get a clear feel of outward visibility, steering feel and wheel adjustment among others. It's better to wait until your salesperson can go with you on an extended test-drive, rather than buying in a rush only to find that your chosen model doesn't work well in some of the routes you take.
Hi! My name is Ken and this is my auto blog. I am super interested in vehicles of every kind. As a kid, I loved anything with wheels. Two wheels, four wheels, eight wheels. It was all great to me. I grew up hanging around my uncle's garage you see, so I learnt lots of cool things when people brought in their old autos and exchanged them for new ones. I am now 37 years old. Although I didn't enter the auto business myself, I still like to buy and sell the occasional car or truck using the tips and tricks I learnt as a child. Read on to find out more.