There’s nothing like getting your hands on your first vehicle. There’s no bigger thrill than stepping behind the wheel of an automobile and knowing it’s completely and fully your own. The open road awaits.
However, you don’t want to get overexcited when purchasing your first car and make any beginner mistakes. There’s a lot to keep in mind when automobile shopping and there might even be a slight learning curve to the process.
What are some tips and tricks you should keep in mind when hitting the lot for the first time? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
1. Budget Before Anything
While you may be rearing to get out there and see what vehicles are available, you need to do your homework before starting to shop. The last thing you want to do when car shopping is to put the cart before the horse.
The most important step of preparation you can take is to create a proper budget. Unless you’ve cold, hard cash, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to finance or lease your vehicle. This is the situation almost any first-time car buyer will find themselves in.
Getting a broad sense of your budget should be simple. Look at your existing finances and determine how much extra you could spend monthly on car payments. Remember, this is payments in plural: the cost of financing your car, but also the cost of fuel, insurance, and maintenance.
You might need to take some time to do your research and get accurate estimates of what each of these areas might cost, realistically. Don’t skimp out on the details here. Creating a budget that turns out to be underselling the true costs will only make things much more difficult for you later on.
How much do you have at your disposal and how much are you likely going to spend? Start with a minimum number and then decide how much you feel comfortable raising it.
Once you hit the peak of what you think you can comfortably manage, you’ll have landed at your maximum car cost. This will give you the right mindset to go out shopping with. You won’t waste your time looking at vehicles you can’t afford.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to put a larger down payment on the vehicle first as well. Make sure you budget for this initial up-front cost.
2. Identify Your Needs
A little more homework to do before you hit the nearest car lot: sit and think about what you want and need from a vehicle. This may sound obvious, but there are many dimensions to this question that you may not be thinking of.
What are you primarily going to be using your car for? It might be for your solo commute to work and back or it could be to transport your family around. You might have cross-country trips in mind or off-roading excursions near the beach.
Whatever the case might be, you need to make sure the vehicle you’re going to purchase will live up to the expectations that you have for it. Even if it seems silly to do so, create a running list of all the qualities you’d want out of a car.
Which safety features are important to you? Do you need Bluetooth accessibility? Does the car need to be pet friendly, or have extra space for storage?
The more you can create an image of the car you want out of these qualifications, the easier time you’ll have shopping later on.
3. Always Compare and Contrast
Now that you have a budget and a vision of your car in mind, you can get your hands dirty with actually looking for a vehicle. Peruse to your heart’s content, making a list of makes and models that meet your needs and your budget.
Depending on how flexible you were in both areas, your list could be quite short or quite long. If it does end up being somewhat lengthy, you can trim it down to your favorites. It’s fine to go with your gut at this point in the process.
Limit your list down to the best five or six options? Now comes the hard work again: it’s time to do a good bit of compare and contrast. The easiest way to consider between vehicle models is to look at the features and costs side by side.
Create a spreadsheet and fill in all the available info. It might also be a good idea to create a section for customer reviews you can find online. Make a general summary of your impressions, as well as any pros or cons that are mentioned.
Once you land on a vehicle you like, keep this compare and contrast way of working alive when comparing sellers. Should you go to a dealership, buy from an owner, or purchase online?
Keep track of the pros and cons of each outlet. If need be, don’t be afraid to pit these sellers against one another and negotiate the price down. The best ford dealership near you might be willing to match the price you offer if it seems like you’ll provide good business.
Tips for Purchasing Your First Car
If you’re a first-time car buyer, you very well might be feeling nervous or even overwhelmed at the prospect of landing on your automobile choice. After all, once you’ve signed on the dotted line there is no going back, you’ve picked out your first car.
The above tips and tricks can provide the guidance you need to do the task properly. Need more auto advice? Keep scrolling our blog for more.