If you’re thinking about buying a new car, make no mistake about it: This is a major decision. It seems so commonplace these days because virtually everyone has a car, but cars are an investment and a responsibility regardless if you decide to rent, lease, finance, or purchase your own.
Here are some tips and tricks you should know before you buy your first car:
1. You can almost always negotiate – Whether you’re buying from a dealer or a private party, find out what the car is truly worth before you get out your checkbook. If you’re buying a new car, you can rely on Truecar.com to see what people in your area are paying for the same make and model. This should give you a basis for negotiation. You may not always be able to get the absolute lowest price you’ll see there, but you shouldn’t pay more than the average price.
2. Your car will need regular maintenance – You’ll budget for car insurance and your car payments, but when you’re considering the overall cost of vehicle ownership, don’t forget gas and maintenance. This can vary a great deal from vehicle to vehicle, so it’s a good idea to estimate costs before you land on a make and model. You may be able to afford the payments, but if you can’t afford the upkeep, it’s not a good fit.
3. It’s up to you to keep your car running well – Your mechanic can only tell you that your car needs maintenance if you visit him. Many people leave maintenance until the last moment because they know it’ll cost money. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep on top of maintenance without running to the mechanic for everything.
- Oil changes and air filters – If you’re even the slightest bit handy, these are things you can do yourself. It’s important to keep on top of changing your oil and air filter to keep your engine running well. So, even if you don’t do this job yourself, make sure it gets done.
- Pay attention– Part of vehicle maintenance is simply paying attention to your car. If you notice any of the following signs, get to your mechanic right away:
- Cracks in your tire’s sidewall
- Excessive vibration when you drive
- Steering wheel with a tendency to swerve in one direction
- Any maintenance lights illuminated
In addition, there’s a tire tread test you can perform yourself to see if you need new tires. Place a penny into your tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head facing the tire. If you can still see Lincoln’s entire head, it’s time to replace your tires. The tread has worn down too far. Worn tires are more likely to blow out, and this can case car damage and/or a car accident. So, it’s important to keep your tires in optimal shape.
Are you apprehensive about buying your first vehicle? What has you most concerned?