First Car Deals – Buying Your First Car

Ford sign-and-drive dealsBuying a first car can be an exciting event in one’s life. However, in the excitement of the moment, it’s too easy to make mistakes that are irreversible. So, it makes a lot of sense to be smart and do your homework first.

Some common mistakes made by people buying a first car are:

1. Buying a car that doesn’t really meet their needs — for example, buying a small sports car when a larger 4-door sedan would have been more practical

2. Buying more car than they can afford, when considering monthly payments, insurance, fuel, and maintenance

3. Buying a car that doesn’t meet expectations in terms of quality, reliability, performance, fuel efficiency, or driving comfort

4. Paying too much, when other people are paying less for the same car — and paying too much for loan or lease financing

Many of the above mistakes are made simply because buyers often make quick emotional decisions rather than thought-based, logical decisions.  They don’t spend enough time considering the reality of their needs, their finances, and their expectations — and following up with sufficient and proper research to make a good decision.

So what are the steps needed to make for a successful first car purchase?

1. Evaluate your needs, not just your wants. Be realistic about what car will meet your needs now and for the near future. If you’re not sure, take time to visit dealer showrooms to find out what’s available, but leave your checkbook at home for these exploratory visits. Pick up copies of Consumer Reports magazine and automobile magazines. Read owners’ reviews on car enthusiast web sites.  Get friends’ and other people’s opinions (try Yahoo Answers web site) about cars you are looking at.

2. Consider your disposable income, after taxes and other expenses, to evaluate how much car you can afford.  As a rule of thumb, your car’s price should be no more than half your annual income. If you know your affordable monthly loan payment, use an online car loan calculator (http://www.firstcarguide.com/auto-loan-calculator) to play around with the numbers, working backwards from an affordable payment to determine the car price you can afford. Be sure to consider the cost of insurance, which can be very expensive. Research insurance costs for different cars, which can vary greatly. Also think about maintenance cost. The cost of simple oil changes, tires, or scheduled dealer maintenance can be very different, depending on the make and model vehicle.

3. Don’t assume every car is about the same in terms of quality, reliability, performance, and driving comfort. They aren’t. Do your own homework to find the best car for you. Use online resources such as Edmunds.com, Cars.com, ConsumerReports.org, KBB.com, and car company web sites such as Ford.com, BMWUSA.com, Chevrolet.com. Check different engine options, gas mileage figures, and safety equipment. Be sure to test drive any car you are considering. It’s amazing the number of people who buy cars without driving them first. If you’re buying a used car, use this self-inspection checklist (http://www.firstcarguide.com/car-buying-checklist-50-points-of-inspection.html) and get a professional mechanic to thoroughly check it out before you purchase.

4. Find out what deals are being offered by dealers in your area. You can do this easily online at Edmunds. This lets you avoid the hassle of stressful price negotiations.  If buying a used car, check values at kbb.com and nadaguides.com. Check around at local banks and credit unions for the best financing. Know your credit score in advance, which will determine your finance rate. If you don’t know your current credit score and rating, you should get it. What’s your FICO score? Find out now when you check your credit report for $1 at Experian.com!

For more advice and information about buying your first car, see our sister web site, FirstCarGuide.com.

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