Buying a car for the first time is a major milestone in every individual's life. But, while the idea of being able to drive your own car brings to mind excitement and the prospect of being independent and not having to rely on friends, family, or public transportation, to get around, it also brings a great deal of responsibility and all sorts of expenses, many of which unpredicted.
With that in mind, it's important to note that first-time car buyers have to answer a lot of questions and take a lot of factors into account before they make their decision. Here are six key steps to buying your first car, which encompass every aspect of the car-purchasing decision, including financing, negotiations, and how to choose the right car for you in the first place.
Determine What You Can Afford
The first step of the process is establishing a budget for your purchase. To determine what you can afford, you should first take a look at your savings and see what kind of a down payment you can make. Then, try to figure out what type of monthly payments are affordable for you, based on your monthly income. After answering these questions, you will be able to determine a price range for your car.
After setting up a budget, you can take some time to get pricing information on the car you are interested in from as many dealerships as possible, in order to see where you could get the best deal. You can use some of the websites providing pricing information on both new and used cars, along with reviews that will give you an insight into how reliable a given car is and what it costs to maintain and insure it.
Get a Loan Before Going to a Dealership
When it comes to getting an auto loan, car buyers can choose from a couple of different options. They can finance their car through the dealership, get a loan from a bank, a credit union, or some other local financial institution. For first-time buyers, the credit union option is usually the best one, as it may provide them with the best interest rates, that are much more competitive than the ones that a dealership can offer.
Take It for a Test Drive
No matter what type of vehicle you want to buy, or what it costs, you must take it for a test ride before buying it. It's the only way to see if it handles well, if it's comfortable and spacious enough, and whether its performances fit your driving style.
Try to Negotiate a Better Deal
One important thing that first-time car buyers should be aware of is that the sticker price is almost always negotiable. Once you start talking to a salesperson, you need to keep in mind that there are lots of ways to bring the car's price down, such as declining some of the following extras:
Focus on Safety Features
Before closing the deal, make sure you get the necessary safety features that are recommended for all drivers:
Side and side-curtain airbags
Antilock brake systems (ABS)
Electronic stability control