3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying My First Car
Back in 2009, I bought my first car without the help of my parents. At the time, I was positive I had made the right choice. I marched into the dealership, pointed directly at the gently-used dream car I found online, and in less than 2 hours I was riding around in my new vehicle. While I certainly don’t hate this car (I still drive it today), I wish I would have done a little more research—especially in terms of financing. Here’s 3 essential tips I wish I had in my arsenal:
While I’m certain I bought my car at a fair price, I made the mistake of not researching auto loan rates. If I had, I could have walked into the dealership and left with a significantly smaller monthly payment at a MUCH lower rate. Instead, I financed through the dealer, paying far more per month. My rate? I’m embarrassed to even share it. Get pre-approved, bring that letter with you to every dealership you enter.
I spent quite a bit of time online looking at prices, comparing mileage and checking vehicle history reports. What I didn’t do was take a magnifying glass to the make and model. In the 7 years that I have owned my car, I’ve received multiple safety notices and recalls. Because I fell hard for this vehicle, I purposefully avoided information that could have steered me away. Don’t fall so in love with a car that you avoid evaluating it honestly.
Do NOT buy the first vehicle you find online just because it looks like a good deal. I never once took my vehicle out for a test drive, and have regretted that decision ever since. It’s easy to get excited about replacing an old car, but do it the right way. Spend time shopping around, test driving and researching. You will never regret the time you sink into research. Remember: your car will eventually becomes an old car. You want to get as many quality, low-maintenance years out of it as possible.
Got any tips to share with a first-time car buyer? Tell us in the comments!