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How to Buy Your First Car

Are you planning on buying your first car? You are in for an adventure, buying a car for the first time can be a time consuming, yet an exhilarating process. In fact, owning a car gives you enormous freedom and responsibility. A car also comes with significant expenses like maintenance, repair, fuel, and insurance. So, you will do well to plan before you set out. Many people make the mistake of buying their first car without proper preparations and research. As a result, they find that they bought the wrong car. It could be too expensive to maintain, or in need of constant repairs. Often, first time car buyers fail to consider the car’s fuel consumption. This can be a bad mistake.

So, before you start thinking of a convertible or a sports car, you have to do some self examination. Start by examining your budget. This allows you to set a reasonable price range for your first car. As a first time car buyer, you need to be realistic about what you can afford. In fact, it’s not a wise idea to consider options that can allow you to buy a car outside your price range. After all, what is the use of having a car if you can’t afford to go places in it? Also, you have to know your own credit history. The dealer will ask you questions. So be ready to respond. Hence, it is important to have a copy of your credit report.

How to Choose Your First Car

Start at the Beginning

Before you set out to look for your first car you need to be clear on some issues. So you have to ask yourself some questions.

  • How much are you willing to spend on a car, including the price, cost of making it legal and insurance coverage?
  • What kind of car best suits your needs? Determine your transportation needs. What do you need the car for, how often and how far will you need to drive? Given the cost of insurance, fuel and parking fees, be careful to buy the car you need. That is the car that meets your needs.
  • Do you want to buy a new car or a used none? Most people want their first car to be brand new. Your budget and other personal needs will determine the option to take.

Establish a Reasonable Budget

Come up with a realistic budget. This is generally based on what you can afford per month. In fact, it is best to pay in cash. However, in most cases when considering a new car, the nature of the transaction price requires the leverage of financing. Consider your cost of living in the most important areas such as food, shelter, health insurance, loan payments, TC. When you have calculated those, the balance can go to car payments, insurance, fuel, and for a car without a warranty, to mechanical maintenance.

Do You Want to Buy a New Car or a Used Car?

So, based on your budget, decide whether it better to go for a new car or a used car. There are pros and cons on both sides. One of the main benefits of buying a used car is that you can often get a great deal. In fact, in many cases, the car may even be relatively new. Hence, good used car buyers are often just as happy with their choice as new car buyers. In case you opt to buy a used car, there are a number of things to bear in mind.

To begin with, there are over 2 million car accidents each year. So, the chances are high that you will come across several cars that have been in an accident. In fact, the most important thing about purchasing a used car is to know everything about the vehicle’s history. Hence, find out the number of the previous owners and if the car has ever been involved in an accident. Also, find out about the maintenance history of the car and any previous mechanical problems. When you have decided what kind of car best suits you budget and needs begin your research.

Do Your Research

Having established your budget, now you can start having fun. Make a list of target cars, focusing on practical options. Cars that will meet your needs and reduce your ownership costs. Do some researches on these cars. Read up on their safety ratings and the rate of theft of the particular cars.
If you are in the market for a used car there are several places to find them. First, there are used car dealerships. Here you will find a wide range of used cars.

Then there are the superstore dealerships that specialize in used cars. These include Hertz and CarMax. Also, many new car dealerships sell used cars. Besides, you can check online and print sources. Remember that classified listings are used by both individuals and car dealers. Lastly, you can look around, and use your friends and contacts. In fact, person to person transactions through people you know can be a good option. You also avoid the dealerships. So are online and print classifieds that link you to the individual car owner.

Online Search

There is no doubt that the internet is a great tool for car search. This is true whether you want to buy a used or a new car. If you are looking for a new car you can research the kind of car you want. You can also research the options you need, the price of the car, and extra options available. In fact, this gives you a lot of valuable information you. So, you can walk into a dealership with confidence. A good first step is to visit the manufacturer’s websites. Check out the cars, the available options and the MSRP i.e. manufacturers suggested retail price. You can also visit local dealer websites and request for quotes.

Find a Convenient Dealer

It is time to start looking for your first car. You may have to visit several dealerships. Most people prefer doing business with a licensed dealer. Look up dealerships ads and check for any special sales. Try finding a convenient dealer. It’s true doing business with a licensed dealer gives you more assurance due to your rights under the Lemon laws. Yet, don’t rule out a private sale from an individual. You may get a better deal by purchasing a used car from someone who has well maintained the car and wants to sell it. Look up ads in the local dailies and trade journals for people who want to sell their cars.

Also, remember that car dealerships are a business. So, they need to make money just like any other business. The car dealer is out to sell you a car and make the most profit on the deal. On the other hand, you want to get the best car for the best price. Hence, to achieve this goal, there are several points to keep in mind.

  • July to October and the last two weeks of December are the two times in a year to buy a car. In fact, this is the time you will get the best price on a car.
  •  Know what other dealers are charging for the car. In fact, competition will get you the best price. Deal with the car dealers in your terms.
  • It is important to know your credit history. Also, remember that it is illegal for anyone to run a credit check on you without your authorization. So be careful because some dealers ignore the rule.
  • Avoid giving the dealer your social security or your license number.
  •  Don’t be fooled that cars ordered from the factory cost more than the ones on the lot.
  •  Do your own research and avoid being misled by advertising.
  •  Know that it is illegal for a car to have a missing price invoice sticker or Manufacturers suggest retail price (MSRP).

Inspect and Test Drive the Car

Carefully examine the car top and bottom, inside and out. Whether New or used, inspect cars during the day. Paint flaws that may mean repairs or any other problem are easy to spot them. For a used car, consider asking for a vehicle history report. This will allow you to find out if the car has had an accident, has had odometer changes or is a salvage. Take a mechanic along to examine the car. Avoid buying a used car unless it is checked by a competent mechanic. Test-drive the car and get a feel of it before you buy it. How do you like the seat height, steering wheel, control layout, outward visibility, throttle tip-in, TC? You need to spend a reasonable time driving the car to know.

Establish the Proper Buy Price

You have made your choice and know what you afford, it’s time you arrive at a buy price. Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price can give you an accurate idea of the price in your area for the car you want. A credit union can also provide you with a perspective and there may be a contact at the dealers. Research online and find out the proper car price.

Decide on Financing

There are many ways you can finance your first car depending on your credit history. Make sure you know your financing options before you go to negotiate the purchase. If necessary talk to your credit union, insurance provider or bank and arrange the finance in advance. This way you will know the interest rate. So if the dealership gives you a better offer, then good, otherwise you are covered. Calculate and establish what your payments would be, depending on the down payment and purchase price. The salesperson will be keen on monthly payments so as to a add profit. Yet, focus on the total amount.

Most car buyers are usually nervous about negotiating. That should not be the case. You need not be afraid of negotiating. So, go to the dealer well prepared. In fact, you need to know the car you want and the extra options, and what you want to pay. You have done your work. Hence, the dealer is the one to negotiate, not you. The dealer has to find out how to get as close as possible to the price you want to pay.


Irrespective of where you are buying your first car, you have to complete some paperwork. It is less stressful to deal with it when you buy from a dealership because dealers are trained to handle it. Before you drive off in your first car, make sure you have clearly understood everything from the title to the warranty if there is any. Ensure the dealer reads the paperwork with you and clarifies where you don’t clearly understand. If you are purchasing from a private seller, the paperwork is up to the seller and you. The most important part of the transaction is the Bill of Sale.

In fact, this document completes the sale of the car. A proper Bill of Sale includes complete contact information, vehicle information and selling price. In many states, the Bill of Sale must be notarized. In case you are experiencing difficulties in handling paperwork during the buying and selling between individuals, contact the agency in your area that deals with motor vehicle related transactions.
If you purchased it from a dealership, all the paperwork will be handled for you and you may not have to make any trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will be issued with a temporary license plate till your permanent ones arrive. However, if you bought your first  car from an individual, you will need to take all your paperwork to the DMV to handle the titling and registration.

Finally, you’ve just bought your first car! Remember that if you bought the car from an individual, you will have to take a few more steps. You will need to take all your paperwork to your DMV to handle the titling and registration process. However, if bought it from a dealership, all the paperwork will be handled for you. So, you may only need to make fewer trips to the DMV. You will be given a temporary license plate to use until your permanent one arrives.

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