If you're about to purchase your first vehicle, there are several things to consider. Being inexperienced won't place you at a disadvantage if you arm yourself with knowledge. Your auto dealer can address your concerns and inform you of incentive programs for first-time buyers, but you need to organize your priorities beforehand. Before you set out on your new car buying venture, consider these five important aspects:
1. Your Budget
Many first-time car buyers must adhere to a budget. Before you head to the dealership, figure out your monthly expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, food and other necessities. This will give you an estimate of how much money you'll have left over for financing or leasing a new vehicle, plus insurance, fuel and mechanical maintenance costs. Teenagers and first-time car owners may expect higher insurance costs as well.
As part of your budget-planning, inquire about the warranty of the vehicle you're considering. Are the expensive auto parts covered under warranty? If not, will you have the finances to cover repairs or replacement?
2. Credit Approval
You'll want to know much money you may be pre-approved for when financing your car. To save time, you might apply for credit by filling out an application from the dealership's website, then bringing in the printed form to the dealer in person. The dealer can then give you a decision. Before filling out the form, have important information handy, such as your employer's phone number and your gross annual income.
3. Vehicle Features
You'll want to consider more than passenger room, or whether the car is Bluetooth-enabled. If you travel a long distance to and from work each day, you'll do best with a fuel-efficient car. If your work involves hauling your own equipment, you might consider a pickup truck or minivan.
If you travel through rugged terrain or snowy roads, consider four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) for better traction and acceleration. Another safety feature to consider would be anti-lock brakes. If you hard brake your vehicle, you don't want the wheels to lock up, or you could lose control of your car. An anti-lock brake system (ABS) helps you gain control under such circumstances.
As a first-time car buyer, you might be unfamiliar with air bag options. For safety reasons, consider the need for side air bags, in addition to front air bags. The side impact air bags or "curtains" provide head, neck and chest protection from side crashes.
4. Buying Vs. Leasing
Unless you're able to pay for your car outright, you'll need to determine whether financing or leasing is in your best interest.
Leasing: If you have established good credit, this might be worth considering. Think of this option as "renting" rather than owning, with a contract that might last for a few years. If your leased vehicle is under warranty for the duration of the contract, you'll save money on repairs. Plus, the monthly payments may be lower than a financing.
However, you need to consider the mileage limit on a leased vehicle. An annual mileage limit may not be in your best interest if you do a lot of driving or you're planning road trips. You must also consider the fees at the end of your lease to cover damages or wear and tear.
Buying: Financing your car might mean higher monthly payments, but you won't incur mileage restrictions and you're free to customize as you see fit. You will also build equity as you make your monthly car payments. This helps for your future trade-in.
5. Used Car Inspection
To avoid potential expense on used car repairs, have a mechanic check it out beforehand. By not doing so, you're likely to incur future expense on repairs or maintenance that could have been overlooked. Also, ask for a computer printout of the vehicle history, including prior ownership or accidents involved.
Before you settle on a used car, take it for a test drive under the same road conditions you'll be driving regularly. Take a parent or experienced friend along for your test drive. They might point out details you could be likely to miss.
Finally, ask about keeping the vehicle for an overnight test drive. Some dealerships permit this, while others do not. If this is not possible, visit the dealership after dark, to test functions such as interior and exterior lights.
For more information, contact a local dealership, like Milo Peterson Ford Co.
Are you preparing to put your teenage son or daughter behind the wheel of a car for the very first time? Is your car ready for that? Having gone through this myself three times, I have created a checklist of things to inspect on my vehicles before allowing my kids to learn how to drive in them. I have worked with my mechanic to create a pre-driving inspection that can ensure that my kids are as safe as possible as they learn how to drive. Take a moment to visit my site and learn a few tips that can help keep your teenager safe while learning to drive.