Getting your first car is a big move, one that you will likely remember for many years to come. It is an exciting experience that is both thrilling and daunting. There are so many cars to choose from and you want to make the best choice. This can be difficult if you have little or no experience with cars. You might not know how to measure the quality of a car or check things such as safety ratings and engine size. You might also be facing limitations due to personal factors such as your income or the local market.
Though it may seem daunting, buying a car can be a fun experience when you’re armed with the right information. That being said, here are some tips that may help you purchase your first car successfully:
1. Determine Your Needs and Budget
Having a budget allows you to consider the money you can afford to spend on a car as well as the cost of maintenance for the car and car insurance. This will really help you with your choice. Answering the simple question of available budget will help you narrow down your choices and decide what the next step should be before you purchase a car.
To effectively budget you will need to calculate your basic cost of living. This means calculating how much you spend on food, rent/mortgage, health insurance and other every day fees. The amount that’s left after you’ve removed your basic cost of living from your earnings is where you then remove the cost of maintaining the car.
If you can remove costs such as fueling the car, car insurance and car payments, and still have a decent amount of money left over, you are most likely financially ready to purchase a car. It is also important to balance your wants and needs. Don’t put too much financial strain on yourself to get a car you don’t need, regardless of how appealing that vehicle might be to you.
A good option would be to get a used car. When a new car leaves the lot, it immediately loses approximately 11% of its value. This percentage will increase over the next 5 years, moving from an estimated 15% to 25%. In 5 years’ time, the car will be worth approximately 37% of the amount you originally paid. This is why getting a new car as your first might not be the best idea, because the moment you drive it out of the lot, it loses significant value.
This is especially bad if you took out a loan to buy the car, because you’ll be owing more than the car is worth. If you buy a used car, the car would already have depreciated and you’ll be buying it for at most approximately 37% of its original price. Be careful when buying a used car that it hasn’t had a car accident. Depending on what you want, this might be a better option than buying a new car with an inflated price.
2. Make Head-to-Head Comparison
When you get to the car dealership, feel free to make head-to-head comparisons of the available options. This might take longer but it is absolutely worth it. At the end of the day it might be a tiny detail that makes a car the perfect choice for you.
If you’re buying your car from someone you know personally, it is important to follow local laws related to title transfer, sales tax, a bill of sale, insurance and registration. In this case, the most important thing is for you to ask someone who is experienced with cars to follow you to make the purchase. This way you won’t buy a damaged vehicle or one that functions poorly or has been involved in a car accident.
3. Check the Car Features and Benefits
You have to do a lot of research. When you buy a car for the first time there are gaps in your knowledge that need to be filled before your purchase. Check all the car’s features and benefits online and when you get to the car dealership, confirm whether the car comes with the complete features and benefits.
You should consider if the car you want to purchase will meet your needs or be a burden. If you don’t do proper research, you might buy a car that is too expensive to maintain and doesn’t suit your needs. If you have a family, a small car will likely not be the best choice for you. This will help further slim down your options and make the best possible decision.
Once you’ve done all the research and finally purchased the car, it is important to remember to test drive the car. Take your time with this step and make sure you’re at peace with the purchase before doing anything final.
4. Read Reviews
Unless you have an experienced person helping you that you can trust, you will have to learn as much about the car purchasing process as you can. Ask for tips from people around you, surf the internet and research in any way you can before making a final decision to buy a car.
Also, books such as NADA guides and Kelley Blue Book can help you structure your research and execute it effectively. They will assist you in things like finding out what the cost of your first car will be. You can also check online forums for helpful opinions and read user reviews. You can also ask other car owners for their own experience with purchasing cars.
5. Check Inclusive Freebies
There are freebies that your dealership will provide to any customer who asks. If you fail to find out about these, you might miss out on some extra features or services that will prove to be valuable. These freebies could be anything from rust protection to spare tires and keys, car insurance, even free service and maintenance. Also, you’ll likely get free expert advice and a tutorial about car care tips. So, don’t forget to ask.
6. Organize Your Finances
It is vital that you get your own financing options. This is why pre-shopping for financing is so important, for at the car dealership there will be pressure on you to accept a less than ideal loan. Sorting this out before heading to the car dealership will save you a lot of unnecessary stress. A good tip would be for you to visit a bank or credit union in your locality before going to the dealership. This can help you get extended warranties, honest and helpful advice, and improved rates.
7. Know the Best Time to Buy a Car
You don’t have to rush the process. Take as much time as you need for the research and planning phase before the purchase. Don’t feel rushed to make the purchase, this can lead you to make a bad choice that you’ll be stuck with for a few years. If you aren’t sure about your decision you can take as much time as you need before making the final buy. Also, you must remember not to sign anything you don’t understand. If you aren’t sure about something, you should ask for a clear explanation or leave and return when you’ve fully grasped it.
Purchasing a car can be a simple process once you’ve applied the tips provided in this article. The two biggest things you need to do are to avoid pressure and do as much research and planning as possible. Remember, even the research and planning should be fun and pressure-free. Good luck on your purchase.
Related: Expert Tips for Buying a Luxury Car