When the time comes to purchase your first car, you might have mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s exciting; there’s nothing quite like the feeling you have right before you get your first vehicle; and when the day finally arrives, and you get behind the wheel of your very own car, the sense of independence you feel is second to none. But, on the other hand, the days and weeks leading up to the purchase can be a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
First, you need to save up for the down payment, and then there are all of the car dealers, negotiations, inspections—you may have to visit a mechanic, you’ll definitely need to speak with a few different lenders, plus you have to arrange a test drive; it’s a lot, and if you’re feeling a little confused about how it all works then don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know as a first-time car buyer so that you can choose from among the very best first cars without hitting any roadblocks.
Establish Your Needs
The journey towards buying your first car begins with figuring out what exactly it is that you need in a vehicle. Do you simply need transportation to get to school or work; if so, then a small cylinder car that’s affordable, easy to maintain, and inexpensive to insure will probably be a great choice.
However, you might need to transport more passengers or equipment, in which case maybe you need an SUV. You might even be buying the vehicle for work, which means looking at vans and pickup trucks.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to really think about what you need your vehicle to do for you; by establishing your needs, you can avoid making a purchase that you’ll later regret.
Do Your Homework
Once you know what type of vehicle you want to buy, the next step is to do your homework and research the different brands and available models on the market. Certain auto manufacturers are known for excelling in different areas; not all sedans are created equally, not all trucks perform the same.
A great place to start is to make a list of the vehicles you like and then compare the features and specifications; narrow the list down until you feel happy with a certain model, and then you can move on to finding the best deal on that vehicle.
Know Your Budget
The next thing to do is to determine how much money you can afford to spend to buy your first car. Now, if money is no object, then you can simply decide which type of car you want and purchase it, but chances are if you’re buying your first car, you may not have all of the money upfront and so you’ll need to consider how much you can afford for a down payment and how much you can afford to spend each month for your car payment. You’ll also need to consider the cost of insuring the vehicle as well as the money that you’ll need each month for gas and maintenance.
If you want to get the very best deal on your first car, then it’s important to understand a little bit about how financing works; it really all comes down to your credit history, which leads us to the next point.
Know your credit score
When you finance a vehicle, you are borrowing money from a lender, and whenever you borrow money from a lender in life, whether for a vehicle, a loan, or a mortgage for a house, you’ll need to pay interest; and the amount of interest that you’ll need to pay is largely determined by your credit score.
If you have a good credit score, you’ll qualify for the best rates, which means that you’ll have a much lower monthly payment than somebody who has bad credit and only qualifies for high-interest rates. So figure out your credit score, and then make sure to speak with sellers who offer a good rate based on your score.
Another really great benefit of buying your first car is that it can significantly improve your credit so long as you always make your monthly payments on time. Generally speaking, if you pay off your first car without missing any payments, then you’ll qualify for a much nicer car next time, so the trick is to build up until you qualify for your dream car.
Consider your timing
Now, another important factor when it comes to buying your first car, or any car for that matter, is timing. At certain times of the year, different dealerships will offer sales that can save you a lot of money, and so if you have your eye on a vehicle, it’s a good idea to find out if that vehicle will be going on sale or otherwise have its price reduced anytime soon; if there is, in fact, a sale coming up, you can save a lot of money by waiting.
Also, each year new vehicles hit the market, and when they do, older models depreciate in value, so if you’re looking for a certain make and model, then try to find out when the new version is being released and if you can wait until then you should be able to save a good amount of money by buying last years model or an older model if you’re buying a used car.
Explore Your Financing and Purchasing Options
The final tip we have for you in this article has to do with exploring your different financing and purchasing options. A few options are available; if you have all the money, you can just buy the car outright and pay it off in cash. Alternatively, you can finance the vehicle by putting down a deposit or down payment and then making monthly payments until the vehicle is paid off.
The final option is to lease a vehicle; when you lease a vehicle, you make payments, but you never actually own the vehicle or pay it off; the advantage of leasing is that you’ll always be able to have a new vehicle with the latest and greatest features, in good condition, with low mileage. The downside is that you don’t own the vehicle.
It’s up to you to decide which is the best purchasing option is best for your situation, but as a first-time car buyer, we highly recommend financing your first car so that you can build your credit, and this way, you’ll actually own the vehicle.
Conclusion & Recommendations
Once you’ve gone through the process once, it becomes much easier and straightforward the next time, but as a first-time car buyer, the whole thing can seem a bit daunting. Focus on the good news; one of the best days of your life is right around the corner.
Remember to establish your needs, do your homework, know your budget, find out your credit score, consider your timing, and explore all of your financing and purchasing options; if you do these things, then you’ll have a smooth ride when it comes to buying your first car.
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