We often associate cars with freedom, independence, and even identity, which makes purchasing your first car an exciting milestone. It can be an overwhelming process and there is a lot of research and planning that goes into purchasing your first vehicle. Not only will you have to figure out what type of vehicle you want, but you must establish a budget and be prepared to factor all future expenses into your costs (Insurance, gas, maintenance, license fees, etc.). Here are some of my quick tips for first-time car buyers:
Determine your needs
It can be easy to get caught up in the hype of the newest and fanciest vehicles, but usually these choices are beyond budget for a first car. Before you make any permanent decision, start by making a checklist of your wants and needs. Are you looking for a vehicle that is gas efficient and easy to maintain, or are you interested in one that is a bit more powerful and extravagant? These types of questions will point you in the correct direction when it comes to making a final decision.
Establish your budget
Once you have determined the type of vehicle you need, you should start thinking about your budget. It is highly likely you will be taking out a loan and making monthly payments depending on the price of the car. Make sure to shop around for the best annual percentage rate (APR) before you sign any papers. If this is your first loan and first time establishing your credit, it is extremely important to make sure all your payments have been made on time. Remember to factor in future expenses into your budget!
Research potential cars
Make a list of your top choices and their average prices so you can get a consensus of how much you will be spending on the vehicle. Some important variables to research would be gas mileage, safety features, maintenance costs, drivability, technology, etc. Don’t be afraid to research used cars with some mileage on them! Most of the time, used cars will be more affordable and you find cost of ownership statistics or prior accidents to help you make an informed decision.
It is extremely important to test drive multiple vehicles before you make a final decision because you want to get a feel for the car and how it performs. Most dealerships welcome test-drives and will be more than happy to show you all vehicles and their features. Be patient with this part; It is always smarter to make a well thought out decision instead of making a quick impulse buy. Don’t rush int o buy the first car, take your time and make the right choice!