Buying your first car has been an important rite of passage for decades. It signals your journey into adulthood and the end of having to rely on Mom to pick you up from parties before things really even kick off.
However, whether you’re 18 or 25, getting behind the wheel of your first car can be as daunting as it is exciting. That’s why it’s vital that you don’t just run out and purchase the first shiny set of wheels that takes your fancy.
We’ve prepared five simple tips to take the guesswork out of buying your first car.
- Consider buying second hand
Being a millennial isn’t easy. You’ve got more demands on your money than your parents likely had and probably far less job security, too. So, budget should be a big factor when choosing your first car.
Car expert and blogger Alex Perdikis notes in a recent blog post that, as a general rule, your car payments shouldn’t exceed 20% of your monthly pay cheque. Buying a second-hand vehicle might not seem glamorous, but with studies indicating that one in five new drivers crash during their first year, stepping right into a Porsche might just end in tears! Save your dream car for when you’re more experienced on the road.
- Know what you want
Heading to a dealership or private sale without a clear indication of what you want or a car-savvy friend in tow is a bad idea. If you don’t know much about cars, it can be tempting to pick a vehicle based on traits that you want rather than need.
So, before you start pounding the pavement, make a list of things that the car needs. For example, low mileage and airbags. Then, make a second list with the features you want, like central-locking and lots of boot space. Refer to this list whenever you check out a car, making sure everything on the “need list” is satisfied before you get distracted by your wants.
- Take it for a test drive
Sure, that car looks beautiful and has all the features you’ve dreamed of. But is it actually comfortable for you to drive? It’s imperative to take a new car for a spin before purchasing. If you’re buying second-hand, a good test drive will also give you a chance to notice and discuss any little quirks that the dealer may not have mentioned. For the most accurate comparison, try to test drive several cars close together.
- Get a mechanical check-up
If you’re choosing to buy a used car in a private sale, it’s a particularly good idea to bring along a more knowledgeable friend or family member to help you look for defects like rusting or oil leakage. You should also insist on getting the car checked over by a trusted mechanic before making your purchase and request both maintenance reports and a detailed car history.
- Don’t rush it
Making a big purchase is always exciting, but don’t let yourself get too swept up in the excitement. When emotions are running high, you may be tempted to exceed your budget or select a snazzy-looking car that doesn’t really suit your needs. Always use your head and give yourself at least a night to think over your potential purchase before actually signing a contract.
Buying a new car is a big responsibility, but if you follow these five tips, you’ll be sure to leave the lot with a vehicle that is both in budget and has all the features you need as a first-time driver.