Buying your very first car with your own money should be considered a milestone, as it signifies financial stability, independence, and maturity on your part. Though reasons for interest in cars may vary, such as being interested in the appearance, fuel economy, cost, or something that provides direct transport from Point A to Point B, buying a car is a lengthy and thought-provoking process. There are some factors to consider before you head to the dealership to have those keys dropped into your hand, so here are some tips before you sign for your very first car:
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Do Your Research Beforehand
Most car websites offer a feature where you can build your own version of a car, and it lists all the different models and features. Since most cars do have four to five model types (EX, LX, Sport, Hybrid, etc.) that increase in luxury and price as you go higher, it is important to consider your maximum budget and think about what features you need versus which ones you want. Car websites are especially useful to get an exact cost of a car and to not be surprised if a dealer throws a curveball about the price. It also helps shorten the buying process if you know the right price range and model type of a vehicle you like, as any back and forth tussle about the price with a dealer is eliminated. Car websites also disclose valuable information about the financing, warranty, car details, and any special offers going on at the time.
Know Dealer Negotiation Techniques
Striking a deal with a car dealer on a car is like navigating a maze with twists and turns. It is a lengthy process and it is important to research the background and costs of your preferred vehicle. You should stay focused on a specific price range after visiting the car website, and let the dealer know you are not willing to pay more. When buying a vehicle from another person, the price may be set in stone, and it either will or will not be a bargain.
It’s likely that buying a car will put somewhat of a dent in your bank account, so it’s important to look ahead. One way to do so is by planning on buying a car that can last for several years or one that can last until you have enough money to upgrade, if it is an old car.
Weigh the Option of Old vs. New
If you have a job or commute to a campus that is far from you, it would be more practical to buy a newer car that is great on the gas mileage, so there is never the added worry of having the car break down on the way. If you are driving to a nearby campus or running some daily errands, an older car may be more practical to use since it is cost efficient. Old cars are fine if they do not come with extensive repair histories or other function-related red flags and were properly maintained prior to buying. Just remember, the older the car already is, the more problems there are that may come up sooner rather than later.
If you work or go to school in a large city, then a compact or midsize car with great gas mileage may be the best choice; in a suburban area or small town, a sedan or an SUV would be fitting. Some SUVS are quite large, but many car companies are doing a great job of creating new SUV models that are the “right size” and not too big. Those SUVs could come in handy if there is a lot of storage for moving around lots of items. Sedans provide less cargo space but are more practical for everyday life. They are easy to park, not too large, good on the gas mileage, and are perfect for young people who might be only giving rides to a couple of people at a time.
Like the Car You are Choosing
Your overall hope when buying your first car is that it provides a lengthy run with hopefully some great memories. You want to make sure to buy a car that “fits you.” If you are a fan of SUVS, then consider buying one, or if you like crossovers, the same thing goes. Use your hard-earned money to buy a car that fulfills a passion or a dream rather than buying for the sake of buying. It is a proud moment when buying that first car, so be proud to call it yours.
With that new set of keys in your hand, along with the confidence boost of having just bought your own car, just know you are driving the right direction in life.
Rishi Patel is a senior majoring in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. He has written as an intern for SPORTalk and Study Breaks Magazine. He also loves to write fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as a hobby to expand his writing prowess. He hopes to work as a writer/editor when he graduates.