6 Smart Tips for Buying Your First Car

Buying your first car is an exciting key to more independence. Still, taking that step can be daunting. You might not know how to negotiate, search, or test a car. Check out these six smart tips for buying your very first car.

1. Decide Between Financing or Cash

If you want to buy a new car, you may need to do a financing plan. It can take anywhere from two to seven years to fully pay off a new car. But the longer you finance, the higher your overall costs. Even financing a used vehicle adds more to the bottom line.

Alternatively, you can pay off a car in full with cash. A used car can cost as little as $2,500, but the cheaper a car is, the more likely it has some problems — or at the very least, high mileage. A good used car is more likely to cost $15,000. If you have some cash, it’s probably best to make that your down payment.

2. Examine Your Budget

calculating budget

Whether you choose to finance your car or pay it in full, there are extra costs to a vehicle. You should calculate how much gas, insurance, and mechanical maintenance will cost every month.

Consider your credit score, too. Good credit really does mean a lower interest loan rate. If your credit isn’t good, consider waiting until you’ve improved it.

Leasing a new car vs buying used is an option, but it brings more questions.  Leasing means that you don’t own the car, no matter how much you pay for it.  A good used car is yours at the end of the loan period.  But used cars might also need repairs that add to your expenses. So, be sure to factor in the longevity and overall value of the vehicle before you take the plunge.

3. Consider Your Location

When you’re looking for a new car, consider where you’ll use it the most. A four-wheel-drive truck might be appealing, but if you mostly do city driving, you’ll be paying for features you don’t need. An SUV might be uncomfortable to drive in a city’s narrow streets. On the other hand, you may find some cars are too low and offer a bumpy ride on dirt roads.

Remember that if you want something really fancy for a special occasion, you can always rent. For your first car, though, practicality is a selling point.

4. (If Buying Private) Ask the Right Questions

Private sellers offer used cars without extra dealership costs. However, make sure you examine the car to see that it’s worth it. Look out for signs of tire damage, rust, unalignment, or unusual noises.  Get your mechanic to do a thorough check before you buy it.  Make sure to look at what it is worth on a site like Kelley Blue Book. Finally, you must also be cautious about whether the owner has a clear title to the car.

5. Do Online Research

Local dealership inventories have filters to let you navigate by price, design, brand, and more. These sites take a lot of the stress off in the first stages, allowing you to check out your options without any pressure. An online tool means you can ask for a quote before you even visit the dealership, saving you time and stress.

Alongside car finder sites, you can use dating websites to see the best vehicle for you. For example, Consumer Reports and Edmunds both let you see what other people are saying about the make and model.

6. Take Your Time at Dealerships

You should never buy a car without a test drive. Unfortunately, taking a test drive often makes a person feel like they should buy the car. Sometimes sales staff can make you feel pressure to buy a car, but just as often it’s the excitement and impatience.  It’s better to test drive as many as six used cars at multiple dealerships before buying. Keep in mind that you do not have to decide in a day. You can sleep on it before making a decision.


A first car is a great investment in your daily experience. So, it’s important to take your time to make the best decision. Then, you can enjoy your first car reliably for years to come. We hope these tips help you navigate the process of buying your first car with confidence.

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Author: Justin

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Automobiles, Finance