A car is among the most expensive purchases we make in our lifetimes. If you’re buying for the first time, then the process might be daunting. After all, you don’t want to commit to a vehicle that will be financially burdensome.
Let’s take stock of a few key things to bear in mind when you’re shopping.
Get a budget
Before you make any decision, you’ll need to determine how much you have to spend. This figure should include not just the up-front costs, but the ongoing ones. Account for everything from insurance to fuel to maintenance and replenishable supplies.
New vs. used
For most new drivers, it’s sensible to look to the used market. New cars tend to suffer from rapid depreciation during the first few months. You might be able to secure a bargain by going to a private seller – but bear in mind that you’re assuming more risk if you do this. The best compromise tends to be a manufacturer-approved used dealer.
One ongoing cost that’s likely to vary tremendously is that of car insurance. Your premium will depend on the make and model you’ve chosen, as well as your age and location. There are many different types of car insurance to choose from, so do your research before you commit to a purchase.
Do your research
The more you know about your would-be new vehicle, the less likely you’ll be to suffer a nasty surprise. Think about reliability and safety features, especially if you’re looking at an older model. If you intend to resell the vehicle at some point, then you’ll also want to think about how well it stores its value.
Go for a test drive
Many of the features that make (or break) your car will be less easily quantified. You’ll need to get into the driver’s seat to appreciate whether the vehicle is really worth the asking price. Test driving is a bit of an art form, so make sure that you know what you’re testing for before you get going.
Some cars are more efficient than others. Opt for an efficient one, and you’ll save money while reducing your environmental impact. The savings don’t just come from the cost of the fuel itself, but also the clean-air charges that you might avoid.
Read the small print
Buying a car means signing a few documents. Take the time to go through them, and ask for clarification where necessary. Pay special attention to the warranty and return policy, and make sure that you’re aware of any extra fees that might be incurred.
As scary as the buying process might be, you can avoid the major pitfalls by exercising a little bit of caution, and by making sure that you understand exactly what you’re buying before you sign anything.