Whether your 16 or 60, buying your first car is a milestone you're sure to remember. But there's a lot involved, and the process can be daunting. If you're a first-time car buyer, keep these tips in mind to help guide you through this rite of passage:
1. Figure out your budget. If you plan to take out an auto loan for your new purchase, you'll have to make regular payments for the term of the loan, which can range from 24 to 72 months. Several online tools can give you an idea of how much you can afford given the amount per month you feel comfortable paying toward the loan. When figuring out how much a car will cost you, keep in mind that car payments won't be your only expense, so be sure to factor in things like insurance, gas, oil changes and other routine maintenance. And remember, providing a larger down payment can substantially reduce your monthly payments.
2. Start your search online, and narrow down your options. With your budget firmly in hand, spend some time online to pare down the thousands of vehicle options to a few reliable options. Think about what you're looking for in a vehicle — do you need towing power? Or space for passengers? Is fuel efficiency a high priority for you? Narrow down your list to about 3-5 models you'd like to take for a test drive.
3. Check out your choices in person. At the dealership, take a look at the vehicles models you've singled out and see how they work out for you. If you're buying a used car, now's the time to make sure the car is actually in the advertised condition. A test drive is an excellent opportunity to get a feel for how the car handles and how it fits your needs.
4. Make your final decision. This part can be tricky, particularly if you're purchasing a used vehicle. With used cars, you have to consider additional factors like the automobile's age, mileage, and available driving history. If the exact make and model isn't available on the lot, is it worth it to hold out and wait or compromise on what you want? Only you can answer that question. But if you've found your dream ride, now's the time to negotiate with the dealership for the best price.
Once you have decided what kind of car you are looking for, let us help you make vehicle ownership a reality. Even if you have had credit issues in the past and have been unable to get a car loan, we can help. Past credit mistakes won't necessarily keep you from getting the car you want. We can get you pre-approved in no time.