Learning how to drive and buying a new car are major life milestones. Perhaps you’ve landed a new job? Maybe you’ve just received your admissions letter and need a car for school?
Whether you are young or old, your first time on the road can be scary and dangerous. If you aren’t inheriting the family clunker and need to buy a car yourself, this adds another level of intimidation.
That’s why we’re sharing some of the best tips for first-time car buyers. While everyone dreams of driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini, we all know it’s not the best first car purchase. Regardless, a first car is your ticket to freedom.
But before we share our favorite cars for new drivers, here are some tips for finding the perfect vehicle:
1. Do your research before and during the car-buying process
Car-buying research includes searching for the make and model of your desired car and making sure there aren’t any major consumer complaints, recalls, or safety-related defects. Just because you like the look doesn’t mean it’s a good first-time car. It’s important to keep your emotions at bay when researching your ideal first vehicle.
Just because there is a new pickup truck on the market doesn’t mean it’s the best car for your day-to-day needs. If you don’t have a family, an SUV or minivan may not be the best choice either. Research the costs of fuel, maintenance, and repairs.
2. Establish a budget
Be realistic with your car budget. If you have to pay for the car yourself, this is an important time to demonstrate responsibility and potentially save hundreds (if not thousands) at the dealership. While the best option is to pay for the entire vehicle in cash, sometimes that’s just not possible. Most car buyers need some sort of financing.
Follow the 20% rule and make sure your car payments and all automotive expenses don’t exceed 20% of your monthly income. For instance, if your take-home pay is $2800, then your total auto expenses should not exceed $560. Take into account gas, insurance, maintenance, registration, and repairs. It may take you some time to figure out what car you can afford, but it’s definitely worth it.
One of the biggest mistakes that first-time car buyers make is getting a car they cannot afford. Don’t make this mistake. If you are considering purchasing a car for $18,000, set your budget around $3,000-$5,000 less than that to account for taxes, registration fees, insurance, options and add-ons.
Don’t forget to take into account your down payment and the length of your loan when determining which car you can afford.
3. Don’t buy a used car from a private seller
Unless you have a family member or close friend of the family who is willing to give you a great deal, stay away from private sellers. There’s a lot of risk involved and it can add a lot of extra time, money, and energy to your car-buying journey. Buying and selling a car at a dealership is a lot easier and more secure.
4. Look for Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles
Certified pre-owned vehicles are the best kind of used car you can buy. Instead of buying a new car, which can lose about 60% of its value within the first five years, look for CPO vehicles, which are often in “like-new” condition.
5. Get a CarFax report (includes vehicle history and inspection reports)
Never purchase a vehicle without first viewing a CarFax report. If you know the vehicle’s VIN number, you can look up its vehicle history report on CarFax. However, if you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they will most likely have a CarFax report available for free.
This report provides essential information on the vehicle’s past life, including accident reports, emissions results, service records, title information, and history of previous owners.
All Auto Simple pre-owned vehicles go through a rigorous 180-point inspection and come with a free CarFax report.
6. Locate a respectable dealer
Learn what separates Auto Simple from the rest:
7. Inspect the car, inside and out
It’s never been easier to know what to look for when inspecting your potential new vehicle. In addition to a visual inspection of the inside and outside of the vehicle, you’ll want to take it for a test drive. Read our Used Car Buyer’s Guide to find out exactly what you should be paying attention to.
8. Secure financing (if necessary)
When financing your new vehicle, try to put at least 20% percent down. This makes it a lot less likely that you will default on your loan. The more money you put down, the more secure your purchase will be. For instance, if the car gets totaled, you could end up owing more money than the car is worth.
Before you approach a bank or credit union for a loan, check with the dealership. They often have better financing options if you are purchasing the car from them. And since all the payments and purchases come from one place, it makes things a lot simpler.
If you have bad credit, don’t worry. You may be able to get a co-signer so you can piggyback off their good credit. Learn How to Buy a Used Car on Bad Credit.
9. Look for deals and special promotions
Often, dealerships will offer specials and promotions, so be on the look-out!
Right now, Auto Simple is offering one of the best promotions you’ll find anywhere!
Refer a friend to Auto Simple you get $200! And now, you could Get Your Car Paid Off too!
For example, in the last three months there were 90 referrals. So, you could have a 90 to 1 chance to win The Free Ride. That’s pretty good odds!
Offer ends 7/1/17
Finally, enjoy this car-buying experience. Buying and owning your first car is a great experience, one that you hopefully remember fondly for the rest of your life. As promised, below are our favorite cars for new drivers.
- Chevrolet Malibu
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Camry
- Toyota Corolla
- Mazda3 and Mazda6
- Ford Focus
- Kia Soul
- Pontiac Vibe
- Scion xB and Scion xD
If you are buying from a dealership, the payment and purchase should be very easy. After all questions are answered and the paperwork is signed, you will receive the keys and copies of all the documents. It’s that easy.
In fact, you can leave the Auto Simple lot with a new pre-owned vehicle for as low as $500 Down!
To ease your worries about purchasing a preowned vehicle, all Auto Simple cars go through a 180-point inspection and come with a free CarFax report. We do our best to bring the vehicle back to the level like-new conditions, including touching up paint and removing dents.
Plus, we offer a 6 Month/6,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty on all of our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with your purchase, you can return the vehicle within 48 hours—no questions asked.
Here are some more tips for buying a used car:
- Used Car Buyer’s Guide | How to Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle
- What is a “Certified” Pre-Owned Vehicle?
- Pros and Cons of “Buy Here Pay Here” Dealerships
- How to Buy a Used Car on Bad Credit
- 9 Best Pre-Owned Cars for 2017
Once you find the perfect vehicle, avoid common driver mistakes by establishing good habits at the beginning of your driving career:
- Essential Car Maintenance
- 10 Bad Driving Habits That Are Damaging Your Vehicle
- How to Change Your Motor Oil (and Filter)
- 17 Things You Should Have in the Car
Auto Simple wants to find you a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, all of which come with a free CarFax report and a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty. We also own a private track for test driving!
With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:
Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600
Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600
Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600
Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)