Buying your first car will likely be your biggest financial endeavor yet, unless you’ve decided to get your driver’s license as a result of your middle age crisis. Chances are that you are inexperienced in buying a car, regardless of whether you are a keen motorhead, hell-bent on buying a car since you were 13, or someone in need of a vehicle as a means to an end. The road to making your first really expensive purchase, however, is one paved with confusion, deceit and inexperience.
Know Your Needs
The answer to “What type of a car are you looking for?” is one that only you, yourself can give. Deep down inside, we all know our needs, so going out on a shopping spree might be forgiving, when it comes to getting your new pair of shoes or trainers, but it is definitely not recommended when looking for your first car.
The biggest problem here is the fact that most buyers, looking for their first vehicle are only aware of how much they can afford and this is what makes them easy targets for sleazy car dealers (this is not to say that being sleazy isn’t basically in their job description).
Luckily, this is where the Internet kicks in. Years ago, you had to know somebody who was somewhat an expert in cars or who knew somebody who dealt in cars. Nowadays, the Internet research can go a long way in providing you with a proper solution. So don’t be lazy and do some extensive googling before you make a huge mistake.
Take it for a Test Drive
There’s a lot of awkwardness involved with lack of trust. Whether it’s about counting your change, or trying out a guitar before buying it, you will feel as if you were mistrustful. Although you wouldn’t be wrong to count and test items before the financial transaction, taking a car for a test drive is a completely different story.
There is a reason why test drives have been made available and you should definitely take the car you’ve chosen for a spin before even considering coughing up the money. In fact, the smart way to go is to give your potential car a good amount of testing, driving it through a variety of terrains and slopes. In fact, opting for test driving your car in bad weather conditions is not such a bad idea – if it performs well then, the chances that you’ve found a quality vehicle are pretty good.
Be Prepared to Turn Down
If you know exactly what you are looking for it is easy to fall in love with a car – the smell of a vehicle, the way it performed on the test drive, the looks, the finish and finally – the way it suits you. Keep in mind, however, that turning your back is your strongest negotiation tool. Once a car dealer offers you something you are well aware is borderline a robbery, instead of playing it safe, try and negotiate the price down as hard as you can. If they are somewhat hard-boiled, do your calculations, make sure that you know what you can afford and turn your back. Worst case scenario – you’re going to have to resume your search for your perfect vehicle; best case scenario – the dealer will shout out your last name preceded by the word “Mr.” and you’ll get your car for the price that suits you.
Of course, if negotiating isn’t your strongest skill, there are alternative ways of getting your first car. Car auctions are an affordable way to get your first wheels – something that will probably suit your budget. Be careful, however, not to get carried away – auctions in general can be quite dangerous in terms of bidding – lose your head and you will lose your money.
Whether you’re buying at a car dealership, at an auction or browsing for used vehicles online, make sure you’ve taken your time and covered all the available resources. You’ve waited for two-digits worth of years now, remaining patient for even a couple of months is nothing in comparison, especially if this means getting a better set of wheels at a more affordable price.
Getting your first car is definitely going to be an exciting experience, even if you aren’t all-that into cars. The most important thing to keep in mind, however is to take your time, browse through a variety of sources, test it before you buy it and be ruthless in your negotiating. After you’ve covered all this, you can start enjoying the look, the feel and the smell of your new car.
Marcus is an IT support professional. He’s running his own business, working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.