10 Tips for Buying Your First Car

10 Tips for Buying Your First Car


Buying your first car is an exciting milestone. But it’s not just about choosing the best color or coolest model! Keep these things in mind while you’re shopping:

Set a realistic budget

Just like with anything else you do, you should set a budget. The price on the window isn’t the only thing you’ll have to pay. Don’t forget about all the other costs of ownership. Think about insurance, gas, repairs, maintenance, taxes, and registration. Determining how much you might spend monthly, or even weekly will help you choose a ride you can afford.

Apply for a loan

A car loan can help you decide how much you can reasonably borrow and will help you figure out how a car can fit into your monthly budget. Remember: you don’t have to buy a car that’s at the top of your price range.

What’s your credit score?

Knowing your credit score is important when buying a car or other big purchase.. Your credit scores help determine the interest rate you will qualify for on a loan. The better your credit, the better interest rate you’ll have. There are also many sites like CreditKarma that will give you a free credit report.

Down payments

Down payments aren’t required, but it can be a good idea when buying your first car. Making a down payment means you don’t have to borrow as much money, so you’ll have to borrow less after you’ve already paid down a chunk of the balance.

Think about your lifestyle

Choose a car that will match your needs, not just because it looks nice. Think about the places you always go to and the reason you’re buying a car in the first place. A fancy sports car won’t work if you’re driving in snowy weather, and a big truck or SUV might not be the best choice for maneuvering around a busy city, or if you drive long distances to and from school or work.

Shop online

Technology makes most things a lot easier these days. Start shopping for your first car online to get an idea of what you want, and how much that will cost. If you know the dealership you want to buy from, shop on their website to make the process easier when you go there. Don’t forget to see what others are paying for similar cars in your area. Websites like Edmunds.com can help you get started.

Take a test drive

When you finally see a car of interest, it’s always best to take a test drive. Use this time to see how the car feels on the road and how comfortable you are behind the wheel. You might discover that the car you thought you wanted isn’t for you after all.


If you want to buy a new car, ask dealers to quote a price for you. This means you’ll what the rate could be with a potential insurance carrier. If you’re looking to buy a used car, get a Carfax report for details on the car’s driving and accident history. Also, certain stores like Costco, and services like AAA have pricing agreements with dealerships that can save you a few bucks.

Used or new?

There are many things to consider when deciding if you want a new or used car. If you want a used car, think about the costs for maintenance and repairs. But a used car may also cost less than a new car. If the used car is still under warranty, find out if it’s transferrable.  New cars often come with warranties from the dealer that can range by manufacturer. Determine your preference, research, and ask others for advice to help you decide.

Close the deal

Now that you’ve taken the proper steps and done your research, you’re ready to buy a car! You’re in command when negotiating a deal. Finally, make sure you understand all conditions, terms, financial, and warranty agreements before you sign. Educate yourself on add-ons a dealer may want to sell you during closing (additional warranties, oil change services, etc.) so you can make informed choices on those extra costs without feeling pressured.

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