Did you know that last year the automotive industry sold over 3.4 million cars? For many of these buyers, this was the first car that they ever purchased. If you’re getting ready to purchase your first automobile, then you’re probably nervous.
This is perfectly natural. After all, buying a car is a huge financial commitment and no one wants to be ripped off. So, how do you make sure that your first car buying process goes smoothly?
Simple: by reading this list. In it, we’ve compiled a list of steps that every car buyer should go through. So, as long as you follow the advice in this first-time car buyer checklist, then you’re sure to get the car of your dreams. Let’s get started!
1. Set a Budget
Before you even start looking at cars you must set a budget. Why? Because you don’t want to find the perfect car only to see that you can’t afford it. This might tempt you to purchase a car that you really can’t pay for.
It’s better to narrow it down to options that you know are within your price range. So, how do you go about setting a budget? Your car payments mustn’t be taking up too much of your income.
After all, you need money for both expenses and potential emergencies.
As such, you shouldn’t spend more than 10% to 20% of your income on a car. For example, let’s say you make $5,000 every month. That means that you shouldn’t spend more than $1,000 per month on car payments.
2. Start Researching
Now that you have a budget that you can spend on the car you can start looking for specific car models that you might want. There are plenty of car websites that can show you popular models that are in your area.
Make sure to pick a car that fulfills any specific needs that you might need. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself during the research phase:
- How many people will need to use the car? How big is your family?
- How many miles will you drive every day in the car?
- How much space do you require for storage?
These questions should help narrow down the right car for your needs. For example, if you need to drive a lot every day, then you should try to look for a hybrid or electric car to save on gas.
Or, if you need to transport a lot of equipment for work, then you should look at trucks. Once you find the right vehicle, then look up the market value of the car. This will come in handy in later negotiations.
3. Get Pre-Approval On a Loan
To get a car you will need to get a loan. Pre-approval on your loan before you get your car helps ensure that you can pay for your new car. If you want, then you can go to the dealership and rely on their pre-approval.
However, we recommend against this. Instead, you should shop around for rates. That way, you have some options for going into the dealership. Odds are that your dealer will offer you a good rate on a loan.
But, in case they don’t, it’s good to have another option.
4. Decide on a Dealership
Next, it’s time to find a dealership. You always want to make sure that you screen dealers before you even visit them. The sad reality is that many dealers charge too much for cars.
Or, worse, they engage in dishonest selling practices like rolling back the odometer. You want a dealer that will help you find the perfect car, not swindle or take advantage of you. So, how do you find a dealership that you know you can trust?
We recommend first asking around your network. Odds are that one of your friends or family has purchased a car and has a suggestion. If not you can turn to an internet search. Just make sure they have a lot of good reviews, like the dealers at Gates Automotive.
5. Negotiate on a Price
Negotiating at a fair price can be a stressful interaction for a lot of people. However, it doesn’t need to be if you’re equipped with the right information. First, you want to learn MSRP or the retail price suggested by the manufacturer.
It’s probably not what you’ll pay, but it’s still helpful to know. Make sure to stay firm on your budget. And be careful about potential add-ons. These can quickly cause you to pay for more than you initially intended.
Don’t be afraid to walk away if a salesman is negotiating too aggressively. You can take your business elsewhere. And, sometimes this can be an effective way of getting them to lower the price.
6. Get Together the Necessary Documentation
To buy a car you will need three pieces of personal information. First, you will need a personal check to make the initial down payment on the car. Credit cards are rarely accepted. Next, you will need a driver’s license.
Finally, you will need proof that the car is insured and registered. This is required before you can even drive the car off the lot. So, make sure to contact your insurance company beforehand.
Enjoy This First Time Car Buyer Checklist? Keep Reading
We hope this first-time car buyer checklist helped you learn everything that you need to do before you close the deal on a vehicle. As you can see, purchasing a car for the first time is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
Indeed, it requires careful planning and negotiating. However, as long as you make the necessary decisions and stay firm to your budget, then the experience will be a successful one.
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