Things to Know When Buying a Car for the First Time

Are you a first time car buyer? Follow these tips to help you plan and budget for your first car to make your car purchase that much easier.

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Do you want to learn about what things to know when buying a car for the first time?

There is plenty to consider when you are purchasing your first car. A vehicle is not something that you can impulsively buy.

There are many factors that impact the purchase of a car whether it be new or second hand. Here are some items to consider before you decide on which car to buy.

Plan for future needs


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Will the chosen vehicle be the right choice for your daily commute? How fuel-efficient would it be for long distances? Choose a car that will suit your everyday needs well to ensure a longer vehicle lifespan.

Also, consider your plans when making a final decision about the car you wish to purchase. As an example, if you plan for kids soon, you may want to choose a people mover or another vehicle which has more seats and bigger storage space.

If it looks like you’re going to raise a growing family then consider the number of seats and the amount of space for basic things such as shopping, prams, and child restraints.

If looking for a long term investment end it may be better to go for a more expensive and more solid vehicle, especially if you have family, over and against small and generally less well-manufactured vehicles.

Some types of vehicles with widely varying uses and functions include:

  • Recreational vehicles such as four-wheel drive
  • Sports cars
  • Family cars and wages
  • People Movers
  • Small Sedans
  • Coupe and two-door vehicles
  • Hatchbacks
  • Utes and pickup trucks

Different makes in models of cars are designed to do very different things. A ute or pickup truck may be excellent on the farm but not so useful on long city roads or when needing to take the family on holidays.

Don’t just look for a car that is nice. Forget the idea of a dream car. Look for the car that is genuinely useful and functional for your needs.

Talk to friends and family about their experiences with different makes and models. Every car will have its pros and cons and you’ll need to weigh these up not only in terms of immediate use but future value.

Research financing options

One task that can be overlooked is calculating and comparing car loans. When you are looking to finance a car loan, you have to consider the interest rates, monthly repayments that you can afford, and the reputation of the lender. 

Most car loan providers have a different loan amount, interest rate, and repayment policy. Some car loans can also be extended to those with bad credit scores, while others are stricter.

That’s why it is important to find a car financing option that best suits your needs — and negotiate the best deal possible.

Inspect the vehicle

If you are buying a used car as your first car, have a mechanic that you trust inspect it. Most of the time, they can spot problems with vehicles that may require costly repairs soon and usually would only cost you around $60 dollars for the inspection.

Heed their advice as it will be beneficial to you in the long run. You can trust mechanics to tell you whether the vehicle that you are looking at is worth its selling price. 

They can also tell you if the used vehicle has hidden signs of wear and tear, such as areas that have been patched up after a car crash.

Some of the more important things to inspect include:

  • Check the engine for signs of wear and tear
  • Check for oil leaks and a build-up of oil on the starter engine
  • Check the quality of the tires & tire tread
  • Check all lights interior and exterior
  • Check the science of rust around the radiator and check coolant and water levels
  • Check the appearance of smoke from the exhaust
  • Check that seat belts are functioning properly and are not

You should also check the body for signs of damage or a car accident. Look for signs of rust and make sure that all keys and door locks are functioning.

Mileage is also an important factor to consider when purchasing your first car. City cars will tend to have fewer miles on the clock but may also suffer from stress due to repetitious driving. Cars in the country may have more miles but drive better than small and inexpensive city cars.

Cars that have been used primarily near the ocean may be more susceptible to rust and body damage due to the atmosphere on the coast and the increased humidity while can’t you cars may have greater amounts of the oil build up dust and grime.

Take the car for a test drive

It is one thing to like a car’s exterior, but another thing altogether to know if you are going to like how a car feels when driven around the city. 

Ideally, you would have your family members with you so that everyone can pitch in their opinions about your new ride.

A test drive will help determine if the car’s performance and handling meet your expectations. You can also bring a vehicle checklist with you so that you remember all you need to look out for.

Here are some questions you should address:

  • How does the car start when cold?
  • How do the brakes feel when applied suddenly?
  • Are brakes responsive to gentle touch or do they require hammering?
  • How does the car react to deviations in the road surface? How does the suspension feel?
  • Does the car go straight when you release your hands from the wheel?

Once you begin to pick up some speed you will also be able to test the bearings. you’re listening out for a humming sound from the wheel. This will be especially noticeable around left-hand turns or when you’re cornering to the right.

It’s also a good idea to take a long and experienced friend you may be able to pick up and observe small details that you would have a look while driving.

Allow 10 to 20 minutes at least for a test drive so that you’ll have time to go through the most important checks.

Negotiate the prices

Do not be afraid to reject additional policies or other add-on features if you do not want them. If you are anxious about negotiations, how about approaching the sales online first? 

Online sales services are always available, whether via e-mail or live chat sessions. When you approach the sales team online and have a chat with them before actually going to purchase the car, you will have more time to think about and decide on the policies you need.

There will also be fewer impulsive purchases when you can sort out a deal online beforehand.

The method of negotiation will depend on where and how you plan to purchase your car. For example, online car sales dealers will provide less opportunity for negotiation than a visit to your local used car or new car sale yard.

It’s important to decide early on the price range you are willing to negotiate for the particular make and model of the car you want to buy. What prices are fairly standard in the new car market, prices in the second-hand car market can vary greatly.

Some people are selling due to maintenance costs while others are selling as a result of age the need for an upgrade. Many high-quality cars are sold at very low prices because people simply no longer drive. These cars are off and kept in excellent condition are garaged and maintained well and are offered at a lower price.

Add maintenance costs into your budget

It’s important to know your budget and to stay within your budget. The elements of your budget the most important include:

  • The cost of purchase
  • The cost of interest and any loan repayments
  • The likely cost of maintenance
  • The cost of legal fees, insurances, and registrations
  • The cost of any necessary modifications

Other ways to create an effective budget is to add all of the likely monthly costs of owning and maintaining your car and deducting this from your monthly income. It’s important in your budget to separate fixed and unfixed expenses.

Final remarks

Fixed expenses will include things like registration and insurance while on fixed or variable expenses will include things like fuel and basic maintenance and modifications.

Make sure the terms of your car loan are clear so that you will not be surprised or hit with any unexpected loan fees for additional loan management costs.

You have to add your car maintenance costs into your budget from the day you acquire your car. Look into how costly the maintenance fees might be for your choice of vehicle, and what are some of the common issues that you will have to look out for.

By putting aside some extra cash every month for car maintenance and repairs, you will save yourself from future headaches should car issues arise as you have money in the reserve to pay for them.

Lastly, it is important to take your time and consider your options when buying a car in order to find a deal that suits you best.

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Luke Fitzpatrick
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program.

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