Five Tips for Buying Your First Car

There’s no doubt about it, buying a car is a big financial decision. In fact, the purchase of a car may be one of the largest purchases you make in your lifetime (second only to your home).

For many, finding the right Kirrawee automotive can be a challenge. Not only do you have to find a car you like, but you must also find one within your price range. For most locals, the car-buying process is both exciting and nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be.

Luckily for us, the experts at Sutherland Automotive know a thing or two about cars and have put together this guide to help you buy your first care with confidence. Follow the tips in this guide and you’ll be well on your way to owning your very own set of wheels.

Determine Your Budget Before You Go Shopping

It might be tempting to hit the lot or start browsing the web for cars without any “filters”, but unless you’ve recently won the lotto, its best to narrow your focus to those cars you can realistically afford.

One of the biggest mistakes buyers often make is to let their excitement get the best of them. This can lead to hastily agreeing to a payment plan they can’t afford. Knowing how much you can allocate towards a car payment each month will help you determine a realistic price range for purchase. Generally, it is advisable to look for vehicles with price points that would allow you to pay it off in full within 3-5 years.

According to Nerdwallet, having a few different options for financing is a good idea too. Many dealerships will work with customers to get approved for a loan, but you may be better off shopping around first. If you have good credit you may be able to get a loan through a credit union or your own bank with a lower interest rate. Ask your bank or credit union if they have an automatic payment option available. Some lenders will give you a lower interest rate if you set up automatic payments.

Shop Around for A Car

When we say shop around, we mean do your research and have a few different options before committing to anything on paper. Some dealerships may use tactics designed to push the urgency of your purchase decision. For example, they may say the car you’re interested in may not be there when you come back, or that they are only authorized to offer you this “special” deal if you sign today. Do not fall for these tactics. You should never feel pressured or rushed to buy a car. 

Used cars are also an option if you’re on a tight budget. You can often find a selection of quality used inventory at affordable prices. Again, do your research regarding potential upkeep and maintenance (which tend to be higher on older vehicles), and ask about any warranties that may be available.

Private sellers may also be an option, but keep in mind “buyer beware” is a mantra you’ll want to keep in mind. While you may be able to get a good price from a private seller, deals that seem too good to be true often are. You also won’t have much recourse if something goes wrong after purchase, and no support. That said, if you do choose to go the private route, make sure to get the car inspected and tested. The Mechanics at Sutherland Automotive have the experience to know if the car is in need of serious repair or has been in an accident. 

Know About Maintenance Before Buying

No matter how nice your new set of wheels is, all cars will require a certain amount of ongoing maintenance. Before you close the deal on a new car, look into what the expected “ownership costs” will be for that particular make and model. Some vehicles are more prone to upkeep or more expensive to maintain. It may also be prudent to Read reviews from owners and learn about their experience with the car you’re interested in buying.

Lastly, get an idea of what the price of spare parts is for that brand. For example, GM parts and popular imports are often on the more affordable side of the spectrum, while others such as luxury models or less popular manufacturers may end up costing you an arm and a leg. 

What’s the Resale Value Look Like Over Time?

There may come a day when you’ll want to trade your car for an upgrade. Having an idea of what the resale value will be in a few years is a good idea. Some vehicles hold their value much better than others.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate 

Ask about automotive financing at your bank or credit union before heading into the dealership. Having a few different options will give you some leverage when you start to discuss financing with your salesperson. They will likely try to convince you to finance with one of the dealership’s lenders which gives them a commission. These loans usually have a higher interest rate. If you have good credit, you may be able to find a better loan with your bank. Get an idea of what your options are and negotiate to get a lower rate at the dealership. After all, the bank and the dealership are both competing for your money. 

Closing Thoughts: Be realistic and Enjoy the Process

One of the most important tips of all, be realistic when you’re buying a car. Don’t commit to a luxury model that will leave you struggling to keep up on payments. That said, you don’t have to sacrifice other aspects that are important to you and your family, such as reliability, easy maintenance, safety, gas consumption and more. Do your research, find a reputable car lot to help guide your decisions, and enjoy taking the makes and models out for a test drive.