Buying one’s first car is an exciting and overwhelming experience. You probably obtained your driver’s license not long ago, so you are ready to take your newfound freedom to the next level.
Owning a car is a privilege, but it certainly adds to your responsibilities. If you are an automobile enthusiast since childhood, you may know exactly what you want in a car; however, your wants and expectations might not exactly be practical.
If you have little to no knowledge about cars, you are going to have a hard time making up your mind. It is a good call to take advice from elders who possess adequate expertise in this department.
What To Know When Buying Your First Car
The following guidelines can help you pick out a first car that is easy to manage:
1. Understand your Needs
How are you going to put your first car to use? Do you need it for daily commute to work/school, running day-to-day errands, and/or occasional recreation?
Is the car for your personal use only, or will your folks borrow it often? Are kids going to be regular passengers? Will the car be used to carry heavy goods most of the time?
You also need to consider the average distance you plan to travel per day, the road conditions, as well as the climate of your region. Buy a car that suits your lifestyle and transportation requirements rather than going for face value.
2. Figure out your Finances
The next most important step is to understand what you can afford. Your first car should be economical so that it doesn’t disrupt your budget. You may have enough capital to cover the initial costs, but that doesn’t necessarily suffice. If you are leasing the car, do not forget about the monthly payments you are supposed to submit.
Aside from that, you have to make up for several miscellaneous costs, such as maintenance, repairs, fuel, insurance, etc. Amateur drivers are increasingly prone to auto accident injuries, so you should never think about skipping insurance. If you are planning on getting an auto loan, make sure your credit score is good enough to attain a reasonable interest rate.
3. Decide between Brand new and Second hand
Used cars are usually the better option for beginners, as they are already broken into. You can get an old car for cheap, so you don’t need to take out a loan or break the bank.
Second-hand cars are great for building one’s driving skills and making mistakes to learn from. On the other hand, new cars have that luster and shine that turns heads.
Maintenance costs for unused cars are negligible in the first year or two. They are fitted with the latest technology, are more fuel efficient, highly customizable, and come with advanced safety features.
However, the initial costs are high, and repairs/replacements can cost a small fortune in the event of a crash or collision.
4. Take your time to explore
Enthusiasm is good; though, try not to rush the decision regarding the purchase of your first vehicle. It is easy to get impatient, but taking your time to explore different options is wise. You may look at several new and old cars before narrowing down your list.
Weigh the pros and cons of your leading options, and take them all for a test drive. The hands-on experience will allow you to discover the feel of each car and compare them on a profound level.
5. Do your Homework & Negotiate like a Pro
You should conduct thorough research on the cars you shortlist and learn about the features you want. Go through reviews and ratings to know if a car you’re interested in would offer good value for the price.
Most automobile dealerships will try to sell you overpriced features that you don’t need, so be prepared to stand your ground. Never let the seller know about your maximum budget if you like saving money.
Don’t come across as too eager if you really like a car and hope to close the deal. Start at a low bid and bargain adamantly until the dealer gives you a reasonable offer. Do not hesitate to walk away if the seller refuses to cooperate and cut you some slack.
6. Get A Vehicle History Report
A vehicle history report is vital to making sure a used car is actually as good as it seems. This report can tell you about the car’s accident history if it has been stolen or rebuilt, and if there have been any recalls on the vehicle. You can get a free vehicle history report from CARFAX by entering the car’s VIN number.
If you’re thinking about buying a used car, you need to get a vehicle history report (VHR) first. A VHR is like a birth certificate or social security number for a car — it’s a unique identifier that provides key information about the car’s identity and history.
A VHR can tell you if the car has been in any accidents, whether it’s been stolen or rebuilt, and if there have been any recalls on the vehicle. You can get a free VHR from CARFAX by entering the car’s VIN number.
A VIN (vehicle identification number) is a 17-digit code that uniquely identifies a car. It’s usually located on the dashboard, on the driver’s side, and is visible through the windshield.
If you’re looking at a car that doesn’t have a VIN, walk away. It’s not worth the risk.
How Much Money Should You Have Before Buying Your First Car?
The average new car costs around $33,000, so you’ll need to save up a decent chunk of change before you buy. But how much exactly?
Financial experts generally recommend having at least 20% of the purchase price saved up as a down payment. So on a $33,000 car, that would be $6,600.
But if you don’t have that much saved, don’t sweat it. You can still get a car loan and make smaller monthly payments. Just keep in mind that the more money you put down, the lower your monthly payments will be.
Another thing to consider is the cost of ownership beyond the purchase price. You’ll need to have money set aside for things like gas, insurance, and maintenance.
A good rule of thumb is to budget $100 per month for gas, $50 per month for insurance, and $25 per month for maintenance. So that’s an extra $175 on top of your monthly car payment.
All in all, you should have around $7,475 saved up before you start shopping for your first car.
How Many Miles Can A Car Last?
Unless you are lucky, most first cars have lots of miles and are on their last legs. It is important to know how many miles a car can last, as this can help you budget for a new one sooner rather than later.
The average car will last 200,000-250,000 miles with proper maintenance. However, many factors can affect a car’s lifespan, such as make and model, driving habits, and upkeep.
Some cars are simply built better than others and will last longer no matter what you do. For example, Toyotas and Hondas are known for their longevity, while Mazdas and Nissans are not.
Driving habits can also impact a car’s lifespan. If you’re hard on your car and don’t take good care of it, it will likely die sooner than if you treat it with love and respect.
Finally, upkeep is important to maintaining a car’s longevity. Regular oil changes, tune-ups, and other maintenance will keep your car running well for many miles.
So, while the average car will last 200,000-250,000 miles, there are many factors that can affect a car’s lifespan. If you take good care of your car and drive it gently, it could easily last 300,000 miles or more.
Should I Buy A Car With An Accident?
Depending on the severity of the accident, you may or may not want to buy a car that has been in one.
If the accident was minor and there is no damage to the frame or major components, then it is probably fine to buy the car. However, if the accident was more severe, you may want to avoid it.
Accidents can cause problems that are not immediately apparent. For example, the frame of the car may be bent, which could cause problems down the road. Or, the airbags may have been deployed and need to be replaced.
It is important to get a full history of the accident from the seller before making a decision. And if possible, have a mechanic inspect the car to look for any hidden damage.
In general, it is probably best to avoid buying a car that has been in a serious accident. But if the accident was minor and there is no apparent damage, it should be fine.
What Is GAP Insurance?
GAP insurance is a type of insurance that covers the difference between the amount you owe on your car loan and the actual cash value of your car in the event that it is totaled or stolen.
For example, let’s say you buy a new car for $20,000 and put $2,000 down. You still owe $18,000 on the loan. But then, two years later, your car is totaled in an accident.
The insurance company will only pay you the actual cash value of the car, which is probably only $15,000 at that point. So you would be responsible for the remaining $3,000.
GAP insurance protects you from this type of situation by covering the gap between the amount you owe and the actual cash value of the car. It is typically only available on new cars, and it is usually included in the loan.
If you are considering buying a new car, be sure to ask about GAP insurance. It could save you a lot of money in the long run.
What Is An Extended Warranty?
An extended warranty is a type of insurance that covers repairs to your car after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
For example, let’s say you buy a new car that comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty. After three years or 36,000 miles (whichever comes first), the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
But then, two years later, your car needs a new engine. The cost of the repair is $5,000. If you have an extended warranty, the insurance company will pay for the repair. If you don’t have an extended warranty, you will have to pay for it yourself.
Extended warranties are typically available on new and used cars. The dealer usually offers them at the time of purchase, but they can also be purchased separately.
Before buying an extended warranty, be sure to read the fine print carefully. Some extended warranties have a lot of exclusions and may not cover the repairs that you need.
If you are considering buying an extended warranty, be sure to shop around and compare different policies before making a decision.
How Can I Get The Best Deal On A Car?
There are a few things you can do to get the best deal on a car.
First, be sure to do your research. Know what you want and what you can afford. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal.
Second, don’t be afraid to negotiate. The sticker price is usually not the final price. Start high and see if the dealer will meet or beat your offer.
Third, consider financing through the dealer. They often have special offers and incentives that can save you money in the long run.
Finally, don’t forget to shop around for the best deal on insurance. The cost of insurance can vary widely depending on the company, so it’s important to compare rates before you buy.
By following these tips, you will be sure to get the best deal on your next car.
Overall, buying your first car can be an exciting but daunting task. There are a lot of things to consider, but if you do your research and take your time, you will be sure to find the perfect car for you.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask a trusted friend or family member. They may have some great advice that can help you make the best decision possible.
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John Adams is a technology enthusiast, lifestyle blogger, and paralegal at a personal injury law firm. He writes about widespread social and legal issues, aiming to help readers solve problems the smart way rather than the hard way. He also loves sharing personal views on technological developments and trending life hacks.