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How to buy your first car: tips for buyers of a first car


Be like this guy. Buy a car from the 3 series.

Getty Images

So you are done taking Lyfts and bumping friends. It's time to buy a new car, and that's a pretty big problem.

In addition to a house, buying a car is the largest amount of money that most of us will ever come across. Never be afraid, my friends. This guide should make the process a lot less stressful.

Set (and stick to) your budget

Before you do anything, you must determine a budget. A good rule of thumb is to keep the purchase at or below 20 percent of your annual salary. So if you earn $ 65,000 a year, your maximum budget is $ 1

3,000. This number – and what is important to you (that is the following) will largely determine whether you are buying a new or used car, which are two completely different processes.

After you have set your budget, adheres to it . If you buy a first car buyer and plan to finance your new baby, many sellers will encourage you to exceed your budget by trying not to focus on the bottom line, but instead on monthly payments. For some buyers, the justification works, but do not let the total purchase costs out of sight.

You are prepared. You are not going backwards. You have this.

Read more: Buy the best 2019 dashcam by knowing their key features

What is important to you?

You may want a vehicle with excellent fuel consumption for your long commute. Living in the mountains? You probably want something with four-wheel drive – maybe even an SUV. If you know that you are going to carpool, you want a car with at least four seats. Make a "must-have" and "nice-to-have" list. It can look like this:

Car must versus will

Needed Will
Four-wheel drive Sliding roof
Large trunk Adaptive Cruise Control
Good gas consumption Android Auto / Apple CarPlay

The new Volkswagen Atlas with four-wheel drive can get it done in the snow, but it can be too much for your needs.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

What is not important to you?

For people who live in warmer climates, four-wheel drive is not really necessary. A navigation system may be cool, but you will probably still use your phone anyway. And luxury functions such as massaging seats and a heated steering wheel? Super fun of course, but save the scratch for a more valuable purchase. These incremental but expensive functions can quickly force you out of your budget.

Unfortunately, if you shop at a dealer for new or used cars & # 39; s, buying unnecessary functions is even easier. This is why: Dealers do not have every function combination of every car. In fact, they may only have models with features that you don't need. If this happens, you have two options:

  • Have the dealer order the model with the desired configurations.
  • See if the dealer can move the right car to their lot.

These options often mean that I will have to wait a few days to a week to get your car, so be prepared for waiting. You can get excited while on the move a lot, which could tempt you to drive away with a model that exceeds your needs.

Do what recon

Now that you have set your budget and needs, it's time to limit your choices with the help of comparisons and assessments. Aim for a top-three list of configuration data.

And before you go to a dealer, take the time to learn about the many available functions, especially the non-mechanical ones. These new functions are complicated and sometimes confusing. And although they can add a lot of value (especially with regard to safety), they are not always necessary. You don't have to know as much as a car salesman, but you shouldn't be surprised by much on fate.

There are enough good reviews here at Roadshow. We have enough words video & # 39; s and photos & # 39; s that you can look through to refine your search. Test drive. And then drive again

Drive the car you want to buy out of love for the clutch pedal. It may have all the features you want, but it's incredibly uncomfortable and the only way to know for sure is to try it before you buy it. Most dealers have predetermined routes on which they take customers. If you know the area, do not hesitate to ask the dealer if you can choose your own route, especially one that combines highway and street driving.

Discover what others are paying

If you know how many others have paid for the car you want, you will become a confident negotiator. TrueCar is a great website to see what people have paid for a new car. It is easier to negotiate if you have context about what others are paying. So don't be afraid to shop with a few dealers and then choose the one with the best deal.

Consider financing

Unless you buy the car outright, you probably need to finance your purchase. This means that you will spread the total cost of the vehicle over a long period, usually two to four years. Often dealer companies offer zero percent financing, which means that you do not have to pay interest on your loan. You can view this handy handy calculator to see how much car you can pay.

If no zero percent financing deals are offered and you are in a hurry to buy, look around for good interest and read the fine print. Those great rates may only be for people with excellent credit or may just be the introductory rate – a car loan that starts with 1.9 percent for the first year, but then balloons up to 13 percent is not a good deal. A car loan with an interest rate of 3 percent or lower is good, but since it is not zero percent interest, you can consider depositing money to lower the total interest paid. Here is an example of how much you can save:

Car payment comparison

Car price ($) Prepayment ($) Interest rate (%) Loan period (months) Total costs ($)
25,000 0
48 26,297

Don't be afraid to walk away

I was really close to buying a used Porsche Boxster from a dealer, but was concerned about maintenance and insurance costs. When the salesman pushed the phone towards me and demanded that I call Geico for a quote, I went outside. He was just too pushy.

The dealer will probably try to sell you an extended warranty, but remember that new cars already have a bumper-to-bumper warranty, usually three to five years or somewhere between 36,000 and 50,000 miles. Hyundai and Kia have a 10-year / 100,000-mile warranty on their powertrains, including the engine and transmission. I am not a fan of extensive guarantees, but if you are planning to keep your car long or cover a lot of miles on it, it might be worth it. And in some cases, a guarantee that exceeds your ownership of the car can add value when you resell it – just make sure it is transferable.

Buying a used car

If your budget simply does not allow you to get a new car within your price range, consider buying a, ahem, "used" car. Many are available from dealers, so all the above tips still apply.

As a car expert I can tell you: using is often the best option. That is because, when you buy a new car, it decreases considerably in value when you drive a lot off. When you buy second-hand, someone else has taken the blow, even if the car is only a few years old.

I buy all my used cars & # 39; s. My most recent purchase was via Craigslist, but there are many different sites. You can buy a car on eBay or you can try CarsDirect or AutoTrader. With Shift, you can browse cars on the site and bring them to you for testing, because you probably don't have a car to get there. There are also special sites such as Bring a Trailer for classics or The Samba for all your vintage VW needs.

Try Kelley Blue Book or NADAGuides to get an idea of ​​how much you have to pay. With both you can search for a specific brand and model and contain variables such as configurations and mileage.

Once you've found your dream car and taken it for a test drive (because you did, right?), It's time to cover CYA or your ass.

  Car mechanic working in repair, regardless of dealer or private party, the owner must be able to tell you the car's maintenance history, any mechanical problems or oddities if the car has had an accident and the number of previous owners . garage "height =" 0 "width =" 370 "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/KqG0hvt2RWLtMz2u8hKv-gzhpsM=/370x0/2017/05/31/6e8f75b0-b933-4c4f-a8a6- 355258c925b1 / gettyimages-535654513.jpg

Make sure your mechanic looks at your new car within 30 days. [19659003] Getty Images

Then take that information and verify it. Receive the CarFax report to find out the accident history, mileage and title history. Many dealers will provide this for free, but if not, this is the best $ 40 you can spend.

Don't make the mistake of signing something that says, "The way it is." Although you buy second hand, you must have 30 days to return the car if something goes drastically wrong or if your technician informs you that it is a waste of money.

An inspection by your technician costs around $ 100 and should include at least the following:

  • An overall visual inspection for rust and other bodywork bugaboos.
  • Check for worn suspension components and leaking seals.
  • Evaluation of belt wear.
  • Check the spark plug cables.
  • Brake inspection.
  • Making the electrical system visible once.
  • Check the quality of the tires.

I cannot emphasize that last bullet wise enough. The tires may look good, but if they are more than five years old, the rubber components will deteriorate, which can have fatal consequences.

Certified used programs & # 39; s

If you have the extra money or are not much of a financial planner and would find it easier to count on the same monthly payment instead of taking a repair account occasionally , consider buying a car through the certified used program from a car manufacturer. It will cost you more, but it may be worth it in some cases, especially on more complex models. If it's nothing else, it's a potentially good mind. If you are considering a CPO program car, make sure you read the fine print – these programs vary widely in terms of costs, mileage allowances and term, and many include deductible and / or exceptions and exceptions that are worth paying attention to.

Pro-tip: don't forget car insurance

It may seem obvious, but don't forget to call your insurance company and get a quote before you sign up for your dream drive, whether it is fresh at the factory , second-hand or a bargain option. The courier you choose can give you a price quote based on the year, brand and model of your intended purchase, but for an even more accurate quote you will receive the VIN of the exact vehicle you are considering. By giving that information to your motor insurance agent, you get the most accurate quote, taking into account deviations that may occur due to optional safety clothing, engine specifications, and so on.

Before you leave …

Despite all this practical advice, the best tip I can give is to buy what you like. Life is too short to drive something that you don't really like. So what if it is not practical? If you want that convertible and you can afford it, go for it! Living in the city, but if you've always wanted a Ford F-150 Raptor, I say, "Hell to the yeah!" Life is too short to drive a boring car.

Originally published June 2, 2017.

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