Buying your first car is one of the most exciting purchases of your lifetime.
It’s also one of the most expensive.
To ensure that you buy the right car for you and your budget without any regrets, there are important considerations to make in advance.
Read on to learn the 9 things you should consider before buying your first car.
1. Decide on a Budget First
If you’re wondering how to buy your first car, the first step should be deciding on a budget.
Be sure to consider all of your monthly income and expenses to determine how much you can afford to spend on a monthly car payment.
Shopping around for a car also means shopping around for loans. Not all loans are created equal, and some will offer you more money or better interest rates than others. Understanding these interest rates is imperative to understanding the true cost of your monthly payment.
It’s also suggested that your initial downpayment covers 20% of the car’s price.
You can determine car values with sites like Kelley Blue Book to estimate how much a 20% downpayment will be.
2. Consider Improving Your Credit Score
Before applying for loans, look at your credit score.
A good credit score will get you larger loans with lower interest rates, saving you money in the long run. A bad credit score does the opposite.
If your credit could be better, try to pay off any debts you have, or build credit by getting a credit card you can pay off monthly.
3. Consider Purchasing Used
Purchasing used cars instead of new ones can save you hundreds of thousands in your lifetime. A used car can be as little as 3 to 5 years old, so they ultimately function the same as a new vehicle.
Being open to buying used also gives you a lot more options when looking. It means you can look to buy from individuals as well as dealerships.
Used cars are great for beginners on a budget.
4. Always Have the Car Inspected
Whether you’re buying from an individual or a dealership, you should always have a car inspected by a mechanic before buying it.
The inspection may cost a few hundred upfront, but it can save you from buying a car that will die on you in the near future.
The mechanic will also be able to warn you of any upcoming services the vehicle may require.
5. Practice Your Negotiating
To a first-time car buyer, negotiating a price may be intimidating.
It’s best to get past that fear and practice your negotiating in advance. If you negotiate well, you can cut down a car’s price significantly.
Another reason to go used is that negotiating lower prices is a lot easier with a used vehicle.
When you arrive, come armed with resources that prove why your desired price is reasonable.
6. Consider Your Needs vs Wants
When buying your first car, it’s easy to get carried away wanting all of the fancy features available.
That’s why it’s best to evaluate and separate your needs and wants in advance.
Think about how often you’ll be using the car, the weather where you live, and what you’ll need to transport around when picking the right car for you.
7. Always Do Your Research
Doing research on the type of car you want is car buying 101.
Research can help you decipher which cars meet your needs, and it can help you pick the right car when you’re stuck between a few options.
Look up how long the car model tends to last, common problems for the type of car, and what the car is worth new and used. You can also ask others who have owned the vehicle what their experience was like.
If you’re set on a certain type of car, make sure you know everything there is to know about it in advance. If you want a jeep, for example, look up what to know when buying a Jeep.
8. Buy at the Right Time
Believe it or not, getting your first car at the right time can result in big savings.
So when should you buy?
If you can wait, buying a car near the end of the year is cheaper than buying one in the earlier months. This is because dealership salespeople have quotas or a certain number of sales, they’re supposed to reach each year. At the end of the year, they’re more desperate to reach that number.
Around large shopping holidays like Christmas and Black Friday, you can also save a lot of money by taking advantage of holiday sales.
If you’re not up for waiting for the next holiday or the end of the year, go car shopping earlier in the week instead of on the weekend. Most people shop on the weekend, so by going on a weekday, you’re more likely to gain the one-on-one attention of a salesperson and the negotiating advantage you want.
9. Don’t Forget a Test Drive
Always remember to test drive a car before buying it. Your car will be your travel partner everywhere you go, so it’s important that you like driving it.
Make sure it feels right and comfortable. Listen for any weird sounds when test driving the vehicle. Do you like the interior of the car?
If you’re stuck between two vehicles, the test drive can be the deciding factor.
Remember These Tips When Buying Your First Car
Buying your first car can be exciting, but committing thousands can be scary, especially for first-time buyers.
It’s important to take the right steps and considerations when preparing to buy a vehicle. If you don’t you can end up buying a faulty vehicle or not being satisfied with your purchase.
As long as you follow this first car buying guide, you’re bound to make the right choice.
Once you buy your first car, consider paying it off with a job driving for our company.