How Do I Buy a Car for the First Time?

Last Updated on December 19, 2020 by Joe Regan

Howdy, Driver? Waking up one morning at a vehicle dealership without knowing the steps to buy a car for the first time is not smart.

how to buy a car for the first time

Before you proceed with this guide for buying your first used car, I have highlighted the things to check in a car before paying for it.

Before you proceed, check out the trick to talk down a dealer.

To avoid being taken for granted, here are the first time car buyer deals you need

1. Why You Need the Car

While planning to buy a car for the first time, figure out why you need the car. People need cars for various reasons, if your reason is intangible, the car will turn out to be a loss.

For example, if your reason for buying a car is to ‘show off’, it would not be worthwhile, especially if you have no job.

Many proven sources confirm that buying a car is not a big deal. The big deal is managing the car. The average maintenance cost of a car is estimated between $500 and $750 yearly.

Moreover, depending on the sort of situation the car finds itself in, this could add up. An extra cost of about $55 could add up as annual spending or car maintenance. Remember that you would be paying for insurance too.

You would renew your paperwork and see off additional charges such as parking fees, etc. In essence, know why you need the car, determine your monthly income, and the cost of maintenance monthly.

2. Identify what You Like in a Car

The second stage of the first-time car buyer deals is ‘choice’. Before you get a car, research the vehicle thoroughly and figure out what you like in a car.

If you have no solid knowledge of the terms used to describe a car, you may contact a professional such as a mechanic for advice. For instance, some vehicles feature front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive, which impact the vehicle handling. So, you want to be sure which you can handle comfortably.

Another instance is the transmission type, and we have manual and automatic transmissions. While some drivers prefer the automatic, others prefer the manual transmissions. You may have to research the effectiveness of either mode of transmission before you decide on what car to buy.

3. Make Your Budget

I recommend keeping the car budget at 40% of your annual income. If your budget exceeds this range, it is not healthy financially. Assuming you plan to finance the car, it might affect your credit history negatively. The rule of thumb is to set a budget that you can cover within the first half of the year.

If your income is $60,000 annually, the recommended purchase power should be $24,000. Note that apart from the value you pay for the car, you will go through additional steps to register and put the car in your name. You will also be charged sales tax, though you can avoid the sales tax legally.

4. Research Cars within Your Budget

After budgeting, filter your search terms to cars below your budget. Let’s say you have $17,000 to spend on a car, you should research Cars below $15,000. To filter your search, simply include the amount at the end of your search term. For example “Passat $15,000“.

Attempting to exceed your budget would require reviewing the budget and that could exceed your 40% annual income.

The two ways you could research cars and pick the best within your budget is either you go online, or you contact the mechanic. Even after meeting a mechanic, you have to visit car forums to read about the negatives of such a car and confirm whether there are cases of recalls.

Forums/online communities are ideal in the sense that consumers with experiences of the car would reveal the downside of the car sincerely.

For instance, while researching the older Nissan Pathfinder (2006 model) the consumer reviews indicated problems with the handling of the vehicle. Depending on the car you research, you will receive helpful reviews to help decide on the car to buy.

Below are some platforms to look up the vehicle you plan to buy:

5. Meet a Seller

Before you contact the seller, see the checklist for buying a car. During the meeting, do not allow the dealer to control the transaction, otherwise, you lose. I do not recommend partaking in online auctions or buying cars online as a new time buyer, hire an expert, or study the platform for a while.

A good number of the cars you find online are either legalized stolen cars, rebranded salvaged cars, or VIN cloned cars.

how to buy a car for the first time

Also, before you pay for a car, be careful not to deal with a Curbstoner. A curbstoner can sell you an open title car or a title washed the car, typically at a cheap cost.

6. Scrutinize the Contract

Dealers prefer to have you as one of their leasing clients. For a start, it won’t be a great idea to opt for a car lease. Settle for the car you budgeted and do not deviate from it.

Meanwhile, do you know you could test drive a car without buying?

I assume that you researched thoroughly and figured out the estimated cost of the vehicle. Buying a car is quite different from getting new Xmas wears as it is likely to be tense considering the amount of money involved and your trust for the salesperson or lender.

Go through the contract, especially if you are leasing, and be sure you can meet up the requirements.

7. Beat the Price

Some dealers have fixed prices. On this note, consider verifying whether such price matches with what people are saying online.

If a trending Ford GT worth is $50,000, the dealership price would be too high at $53,000.

The only option left is to try out a new seller, especially if the current dealership has a fixed price. If the dealership allows bidding, you should be able to bargain until it agrees with your budget. Look out for the least possible scratch on the ride even before the inspection agent assesses the car.

8. Go for a Used Car

Experts believe that the only difference between a brand-new car and a used car is the current condition of the car. If you are buying a used car and the condition of perfect, you may go for it. Be sure, however, that the car was not rebuilt and rebranded after being declared a total loss by the insurance or issued a salvage title by the motor agency.

9. Hire a Car Inspection Agent/Agency

Getting someone along to inspect the car equally applies to old-time buyers. An inspection agency will do well to figure out faults on the vehicle. Even an insurance company uses an adjuster to determine the worthiness of a car, let alone a privately owned car like yours.

Do not hire car inspection agents proposed by the dealer. The reason is that they might not be very truthful to make their money continuously with the dealer, and possibly make away with their commission.

how to buy a car for the first time

Car inspection services vary between the region of $80.99 to $150. It depends on the agency and how sophisticated they’ll be while inspecting the vehicle.

Basic Mistakes to Avoid when Buying a Car

During these processes, there are things to avoid or get yourself messed up. Here is a simple rundown of the things to be careful about when buying your first car:

a. Exceeding Budget

Often, situations could be tempting. However, it is not recommendable to spend beyond your budget. Getting the car is not a problem, but the cost of maintenance. Unless your financial strength is healthy enough, keep things low and within.

b. Failing to Test-Drive

Wondering what is test drive? This practice lets you determine the drivability of the car to be purchased. You may not be excellent at this and we thus recommend letting the inspection agent do such while you are in the car as well. Once in a while, switch seats and have a feel of the vehicle. Whatever it is you feel should not be, communicate it to the agent, and get explanations from the dealer.

c. Going for Appearance

It is not a great idea to buy looks. Some of the good-looking cars are salvage title cars and are not worth a thought. This mistake is rampant in online car purchases where people go for looks. If a car’s look attracts you, do not fail to run a history check. All of these are well stated in our buying first car checklist which the link has been embedded above.

d. No Vehicle Inspection

It is ideal to pay a few bucks for professional inspection than get yourself a car that becomes faulty weekly. With about $80 or thereabout, depending on the agency, this should be sorted.

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