Cars are a fantastic feat of technology. Having your own car is a rite of passage to adulthood, giving you convenient transportation and a sense of independence.
About 286.9 million vehicles were registered in the US last 2020. This statistic will increase in the following years due to the influx of buyers.
If it’s your first time buying a car, it can sometimes be a daring process. Read on to know more about what to do when buying your first car.
You can also check this video for a visual run-through of the topic:
Rules for First-Time Car Buyers
There are a lot of factors concerning car buying. Here are some rules that can help you select the right car:
1. Budget is essential
The first thing you need to do is to lay down a budget. Setting a budget means you’ll know your limit and will not pick over that limit.
Your budget should be realistic and grounded on three things:
- Credit score – before buying a car, you should know your credit score. It will help you lessen the cost and save you money.
If you don’t have a good credit rating, there are different ways to improve it.
- Monthly spending – set how much you can allocate towards paying for your car. As a general rule, the allocation should not exceed 15% of your monthly salary.
- Post-buying expenses – On top of the cost of buying a car, you need to budget fuel, maintenance, and car insurance.
2. Establish why you need it
Another critical step is to ask yourself why you need a car. Here are some questions you want to go over when deciding on a vehicle:
- Do you need it for work, long travels, or both?
- How many seats do you want?
- Will you install child car seats?
- Do you need a large cargo capacity?
3. Do your car research
After establishing your budget and why you need a car, the next rule is to do some research. The best thing to do is create a spreadsheet to input all relevant information about your potential vehicles.
There are many aspects of a car that you need to research. These pieces of information will help you eliminate some of your options:
- Body Type – there are different body types, but the most popular ones are the hatchback, sedans, SUVs, and MUVs. These types offer different kinds of comfort and capacity.
- Engine Type – you can either choose petrol or diesel engines. Cars with petrol engines run smoother, but diesel engines have cheaper fuel costs.
There are also cars with hybrid engines. However, these cars can fetch a higher market price.
- Safety – it is vital to know the safety rating of the car you’re choosing. It would be best to go over factors like ABS, airbags, and child safety features for your vehicle.
- Fuel efficiency – choosing a cleaner and fuel-efficient vehicle lessens the fuel cost while reducing the emissions causing air pollution.
- Depreciation – the resale value of cars varies from model and brand. As a rule of thumb, choose a vehicle that has a reasonable value in the long run.
This rule goes hand in hand with the second one. Your choice of car may change after you have gone over the abovementioned factors.
4. Find a reputable car dealer
There are tons of dealerships across the US. By mid-2020, the National Automobile Dealers Association tallied 16,646 dealers of new cars.
Going to a reputable dealer will save you money and speed up the buying process. However, finding a good car dealer can be tricky.
Find credible websites where people post reviews of the car dealers in your area. If there are no reviews, ask your neighbor or coworkers.
5. Leasing vs. Buying
Choosing between buying and leasing a car is a tough call. The two have their pros and cons, so you need to weigh them carefully.
The upside of leasing a car is you can have expensive and top-of-the-line models. However, you cannot customize the vehicle compared to a bought one.
6. Always schedule a test drive
After you have thinned out your choices, it is now time to test drive them.
Always call beforehand and schedule a test drive. This way, the dealership can reserve your slot and the vehicle.
Usually, a car dealer has a predetermined route for their test drives. However, you can ask them if you want to take another way.
Also, it is a must that you do this for all your car options. Don’t skip or choose the first or second car you test drive.
7. Parking is a must
Having a dedicated parking space for your car is essential. A parking space may also determine the size or the body type of the vehicle you’re eyeing.
8. Car Insurance is a must
Car insurance is necessary for most states in the US. After buying a car, you need to get a policy to compensate for any damages dealt by any road accidents.
The cost of getting one depends on your location, driving record, and car state.
New vs. Secondhand Car
There are many cars you can choose from, from a sedan to a mini-SUV. You can also choose from a new or used vehicle.
There are different reasons to consider a secondhand car over a new one. For example, a used vehicle can be less costly than a new one.
On the flip side, buying a new car also has its benefits. A significant advantage of a new vehicle is it will have the manufacturer’s warranty and the latest car technology.
Whatever you’ll choose, make sure to take into account your budget and the reason why you need a car.
Common Car Maintenance Myths
There are different myths and hearsays surrounding car maintenance. You might have heard some of them from your friends and family or overheard a conversation about it.
Wherever you heard about those myths, be sure not to get fooled. To help you know facts from fiction, here are some of the common car maintenance myths:
- Using premium fuel – you might hear this myth more often than others; that expensive fuel is better. But that’s not always the case. Cars these days can run perfectly on regular fuel. Using premium will not give your vehicle some performance boost. However, use premium fuel if it’s in your car manual.
- Changing oil every 3,000 miles – replacing your car’s oil every 3,000 miles is not applicable in today’s society. Most cars last 7,500 to 10,000 miles without an oil change. Still, it’s best if you consult your car’s manual with the oil change schedule.
- Going to the car dealer for maintenance – some people will tell you that you should do car maintenance in the dealership where you bought it. The reason behind this misconception is that some car owners think that the car dealer will void the warranty. However, that’s not true. As long as a certified mechanic does the maintenance, the dealership will not void the warranty.
- Using household detergent – laundry detergent or dishwashing soap are the cheapest alternatives when cleaning your car. But those cleaning detergents will damage your car’s paint and finish.
Driving Tips for Beginners
Learning anything new is an exhausting process. May it be knitting or picking up a new sport, there will always be a learning curve.
The same goes with picking up how to drive a car. To help you ease your way through the process, here are simple driving tips:
- Observe the 3Cs – always remember the 3Cs of driving: calm, confident, and comfortable.
First, find the most comfortable seating position. An ergonomically correct seating position gives you easy access to all the car’s controls.
Second, always be confident in your driving. You should know the different controls, signals, and other essential things before sitting in front of the steering wheel.
Lastly, keep calm while driving. Don’t let your bad mood dictate your driving persona.
- Turn signals are a must – these signals are vital in a smooth driving experience. The turn signals are the signs you give other drivers the heads-up when you are about to turn.
- Observe proper distance – always keep a safe distance between other cars. Being too close will not give you ample time to react when something terrible happens.
- Have a dashcam – installing a dashcam will surely save you from any trouble.
Most people will automatically point fingers at each other when there’s a road mishap. With a dashcam, you can avoid that.
This tool allows you to record everything while you’re driving. It can also serve as a security camera when you leave your car in a parking lot.
Buying your first car is a very challenging yet exciting endeavor. Keeping in mind these rules and tips will help you pick a vehicle that fits your needs and budget.
It will also help you reach a sound and rational decision. Still, it would be best to do more research to make the buying process easier and faster.
If you want to know more about owning a car, you may want to read these related articles:
- Car Owner’s Guide: How To Get The Cheapest Car Insurance Rates
- How To Get Property Damage Liability Car Insurance In 2021
- Ranking The Most Affordable Cars To Insure In 2021
Share this with your friends and family so they’ll know the rules when buying their first car. Comment below your thoughts about this article and share some tips you’re heard about buying a car.