Dealership Insight into Buying Your First Car
Buying a car can be seen as exciting or a chore, depending on your liking for cars and your view of them. If you’re a first time buyer, however, it’s likely to be a challenge due to your unfamiliarity with the process. Nevertheless, your first car will give you freedom and independence that you don’t have if you’re relying on others or on public transport, so look forward to a good outcome.
Like anything that’s worth doing, planning and preparation are essential to get the best result. So here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.
Decide What You Want
Although you might fancy a sleek and sporty model, that probably isn’t practical, especially for your first car. Instead, assess what you want it for — how often you’ll use it, how many miles you’ll do, who and what you’ll carry in it.
You want something that’s reliable and practical with all the features you need. Don’t pay extra for features you’ll hardly ever use and can do without but don’t omit features you’ll regret not having. Above all, don’t buy a car you can’t afford to insure, maintain or repair because premiums will be high for a novice driver.
If it’s your first car, you’re unlikely to be buying new. The cost may just be too much and new cars lose a lot of their value as soon as they leave the showroom. A better option is a relatively modern used car that will have all the up-to-date features and still have plenty of useful life in it.
Decide What You Can Afford
Buying your first car can be an expensive business so make sure you don’t take on costs you can’t meet. Before you even start looking at cars, create a budget so you know what you can afford to spend.
Since this will be your first car, you won’t have one to part-exchange and so will need cash for a deposit. You’ll need to determine what you have to spare without leaving you short when something unexpected comes up.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to pay cash for the car so finance may be the only option. If you’re young and haven’t built up much of a credit history, getting a loan might not be easy but will be more likely if you have a parent as a guarantor.
If you can get a loan, budget carefully to see what you can afford to repay monthly. Take account of all your living expenses, including food, accommodation, utilities, insurance and entertainment. And don’t forget you’ll have extra costs when you get the car — fuel, insurance and repairs as well as the loan repayment.
Do Your Research
Once you’ve decided on the type of car you want, investigate it thoroughly. There’s plenty of information available online so there’s no excuse for not knowing lots about the car before you buy it.
Read all you can to see descriptions, specifications, features and options. Look at reviews, both professional and independent, so you can find other people’s views of the car. And make sure you know the recommended price of a car with the age and condition you’re after.
Inspect and Test
No matter how much research you do online, that’s no substitute for actually seeing and trying out the car. Look at the condition of the bodywork to check for scratches, bumps and rust. Also check the interior since that will tell you how well the car’s been looked after. The engine and mechanics will be more of a challenge, especially as a first time buyer, so take along with you an adult who knows about cars.
The test drive is particularly important since it will tell you if the car really is the one for you. Make sure the driving position is comfortable and adjust the seat and steering wheel until they’re right. Check the position of the controls, how the car feels to drive, all round visibility and how everything feels. Although you can adapt to many things in a car, it’s better if they’re right to start with.
This can be the most nerve-racking part of the purchase because you’re an amateur and the salesperson does it every day. However, if you’ve prepared thoroughly, you can approach it with confidence.
The salesperson will be aiming to get as high a price as possible while you’ll want to keep the cost low. In effect, you’ll probably end up somewhere in between.
Although the salesperson may talk about the cost in terms of dollars per month, you want to know the total price including and excluding finance costs. And if you have already negotiated a loan, you will be in a stronger position and able to use that or the showroom’s deal if better.
Try to keep it simple by first negotiating a price and then talking about finance. And don’t be pushed into buying unnecessary extras that will add to the cost without providing much benefit. If you do things properly, you’ll end up with the car you want at a price you can afford.