Buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases people make in their lifetime. A lot of responsibility comes with it. There are legal issues in case of accidents, physical issues in the maintenance of the vehicle, and financial issues in the monthly output for the car.
Responsibility notwithstanding, a car is necessary. Many people live in the ‘burbs where buses don’t run. If a person has no car, groceries are hard to carry on the walk home. If you’re walking, you can’t carry home large purchases like a washer and drier.
Having said that, buying a car could be a minefield. Should you buy new or used? Can you get financing? If you’re buying a used vehicle, what are the hidden things that will bite you in the behind down the road (pardon the pun?)
From these considerations, we’ve narrowed it down to four essential facts about buying your first vehicle that stand out from the rest.
1. Financial. It helps to know your credit score. This can be found online. Look into what interest rates are doing nowadays. Forewarned is forearmed, and can save you hundreds of dollars on car payments.
Compare prices at dealerships in your town as well as online. Some dealerships run online specials unavailable to their walk-in customers. Have Edmund’s and Kelley Blue Book bookmarked on your phone and computer for reference when you’re at the car lot.
You can use online resources or a notebook and pen to figure how much car you can afford. Walking in with a hefty down payment helps. Knowing how much monthly payments you can afford is also important.
2. Type of car. If you drive many miles to and from work each day, then a subcompact such as Honda’s FIT or Ford’s Fiesta would work for you. Do you carry supplies from one office to another within your company? Perhaps an SUV would be best. Decide what you need before going to a car lot.
3. Car history. Look online for the CARFAX report on a car you would like to buy. This is vital if you’re buying a used vehicle. Research the car’s title online at the DMV.
4. Get an inspection. Insist upon having a mechanic of your choosing look at the car. There could be hidden problems that will cost you a lot of money later on. No dealership wants to keep such cars on the lot, because they aren’t making money off them. They likely won’t appreciate your mechanic showing them up with an inspection. Insist anyway, and get it done. It will cost you around $100, but that’s better than thousands of dollars worth of parts and labor later.