Buying your first car could be the single most exciting thing you’ve done so far. However, it’s not quite as simple a task as you might imagine. There are lots of factors you need to take into account, aside from the make and model of the car you want to buy. If you’ve not yet passed your driving test, this is something you need to be getting on with. There’s no point having a car sat on your drive if you’re not able to drive it on your own. Having a car can take a sizeable chunk of your money each month. You have to pay for insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel, taxes and more. If you’re sure you’re ready to take on such a big responsibility here are some tips to make the process as painless as possible.
Tips for Buying Your First Car
Set Yourself a Budget
The first step is to decide what you can reasonably afford to spend. You may have enough savings to be able to pay for the car in cash. However, if this is not possible, your budget will depend on how much you can afford to pay every month. You’re going to need to look for finance so try and get the best possible deal. You’ll need to work out your expenses and what you’ve got coming in. Anything left over you can use to buy a car.
What Are Your Needs?
You might really fancy a top of the range MPV, but do you really need it? It’s probably not going to be the one and only car you ever own. However, it should still meet your needs. You don’t want to be buying a new car every couple of years because it lacks in some way. So look for a car that’s going to satisfy you. If the car you really want is a little out of your price range, see if you can make some cuts in your expenses and buy it.
Research, Research, Research
This is the easiest thing for the modern car buyer to do, and quite frankly, you’d be mad if you decide to skip this important step. There are websites galore to help anyone buying a car. As well as new cars, you can uncover the foibles and niggles of many of the older models too. Read plenty of forums as well as car dealer and comparison sites. Buying a car is not something you should do at the last minute. Spend a few weeks, even a few months reading about the different cars you’re considering buying. If you see a certain model when you’re out and about talk to the owner and ask about their experiences.
Talk to a Local Dealer
They’re really not all like the sharks you see on TV, many of them are ordinary people trying to earn a living just like you. Don’t just visit one dealer either. Take the time to shop around and find out about average prices. Approach the dealer with confidence. Know what you want, be aware of the prices and standard features. Don’t be fooled into buying lots of optional extras. Many of them are really unnecessary.
At this point, you may be wondering whether to buy new or used. A new car will lose value as soon as it’s driven away from the dealership. Just three years after being bought new you can expect to get back no more than 30-40% of the original price. This is quite a big hit, making a used car a more attractive deal. However, one advantage of buying a new car is that it will come with a warranty.
Take a Test Drive
Once you’ve done all your research, it’s time to take any potential cars out for a test drive. We’re not talking a quick sprint around the block either. It should be for a minimum of 30 minutes and be on a variety of different roads. Try lots of different maneuvers, stop-and-go, freeway driving and parking, for example. The more time you get to spend behind the wheel the better feel you’ll get for the car. It will also provide you with an opportunity to check everything is working correctly. Certain faults, such as whether the starter is going out, will be glaringly obvious. As long as you know what to look out for. Pay close attention to the feel and function of the steering, as well as the brakes and transmission. Listen out for groans, creaks, and squeaks as these may indicate problems.
You’re Going to Need Insurance
As well as the cost of buying your first car, you’re also going to need to look for insurance. This is one cost that may actually crush you, especially if this is your first car and you’re fresh out of college. However, you won’t be able to drive on the highway without it. Find out as much as you can about the different options and ask for quotes from several different insurance providers. There are a number of different variables that will determine the price you pay. For example, your age, experience and where you live.
Important Safety Features
Many of the features you’re offered will be unnecessary extras. However, there are certain safety features you should ask for. For example:
- Antilock brake system (ABS)
- Electronic stability control (ESC)
- Head-protecting side airbags
- Forward-collision warning
- Backup camera
Buying a new car is a risky business, even if you’ve been doing it for years. However, approaching it with an air of confidence because you’ve done the necessary research makes it more likely you’ll walk away with a good deal. The important thing to remember is not to let anyone rush you or be pushed into buying something you’re not comfortable with. Take your time, look over the car thoroughly, take a knowledgeable friend with you if you can. Test drive any potential vehicles and if you’re at all unsure, walk away and look for something else. You’re going to want to hold onto this car for at least a few years, so it’s vital you’re happy with your purchase.