Purchasing a car can be an exciting, yet confusing experience for the first-time buyer. There are plenty of things to consider such as which type of car, ownership costs, financing options, insurance, and more. It doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, however.
By preparing yourself ahead of time, you’ll be able to make the best purchase that fits your wallet and your lifestyle. A well-informed shopper is a smart shopper and we can help you step by step during the process to help you choose the right car for you.
Start by establishing a reasonable budget
Consider the entire amount you would be willing to pour into the total purchase cost. Determine how much money you currently put into your regular cost-of-living expenses, such as rent/mortgage, food, entertainment, medical, etc., and from there, you can determine how much you are able or are willing to put towards a vehicle payment and any additional ownership such as insurance, fuel and maintenance. The typical buyer will leverage financing on their purchase, but determining your budget ahead of time will give you an idea of where you should be without buying above your means.
Determine your transportation needs and weigh them against your wants
Sure, we’d all like to have that sporty convertible to cruise around town, which transforms into a minivan to tote the whole gang or into a truck to help your friend move on a Saturday morning. Thankfully, there are many vehicles that have a lot of versatility, but you still have to be realistic. If you don’t haul or tow much, a heavy-duty truck may be too much. If you have a large family and are going back and forth to sports practice, a minivan or SUV may be a better option than a small sedan. From there, you’ll need to decide what aspects of the vehicle you would truly need versus those that you’d want. Consider whether or not it’s needed to add in the extra money for a built in DVD system or a fully-leather interior.
Research, research and more research
The internet can be a powerful tool for a first-time buyer. Use it to help determine a few models you’re willing to consider. Dealership websites are chock-full of useful information and performance data on vehicles and give a good insight as to what they may have currently on the lot, ready to be purchased. Take some time to read reviews about models and about the dealership itself to give you an idea of where you should start browsing in person. Most importantly, do some research about financing options to be prepared to talk about it at the dealership.
Get behind the wheel
Once you narrow down ideas of what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to set foot in the dealership and complete a few test drives. Your salesperson is there to help you make the right choice, so talk to them about what you’re looking for. They may make additional recommendations for you to ensure you get what you need. See the vehicle in person and make sure it’s something you’d be able to drive comfortably and safely.
Don’t be afraid to talk money
This is usually the part that shoppers panic about, but your salesperson should be willing to walk you through the purchasing process and address any questions or concerns you may have. Not everyone is a financing genius so be sure to ask questions and fully understand your loans, payment schedule, penalties and other additional costs before you sign anything. If you’re feeling pressured to sign things before you have answers, go with your gut and consider another dealership.
While buying a car can feel tedious and scary, taking time to do some background work before you go makes the process a whole lot smoother. Buying a car is an important decision, but starting out on the right foot makes it all worth it. By being a smart shopper, you’ll look for the best deal for you and be heading off into the sunset in no time!