What to expect when buying your first car
At the ripe old age of 24, I have bought my first car. Unlike many millennials who jump at the chance to make their first grown-up purchase, I was reluctant. My previous vehicle was a 1999 Honda Accord and I loved her. We did everything together. She got me from point A to point B without being a show-off like most newer cars these days. She didn’t have a back up camera or an Aux port. Nope, it was just me and her on the congested highway listening to the radio play the same 5 songs with 20 minutes of commercials in between. Those were the glory days.
I was mostly reluctant about buying a “new” used car because it meant going into more debt. I had my heart set on paying off my student loans in 2 years and a car payment was not a part of the deal. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I took it to the mechanic and they said I had leaks in all 4 brake lines and the whole contraption would need to be fixed. This was easily a $2,000 repair on a 17 year old car that was worth $1,000 on a good day…. It was time to lay her to rest.
7 Things I learned from buying my first car
In the same month I took out a loan to drive away in my new 2014 Chevy Equinox (because I don’t view that as purchasing my car yet), we moved across the country to start our adventure in Colorado. The sticker price of the vehicle was $16,000, about $8,000 over what I originally wanted to spend. My expectation of getting a newer used car in great condition to take cross country for $8,000 was wildly unrealistic. This was a lesson I quickly learned at the expense of a few unfortunate sales people who were unable to meet my wishes. These are my top 7 tips for buying a new car.
Nicer is always better
I Learned that being nice to the used car salesmen will get you further than trying to drive a hard bargain.. This lesson was learned after the 3rd or 4th dealership we went to. If you haven’t heard the phrase, fake it till you make it, well now you have; and this is a perfect example. I faked a smile through the slimy spiels about new features and upgrade packages until I found the car that fit me the best. After being a pleasant customer, the salesman was much more inclined to give me a deal or free upgrades because I was an adorable angel instead of the raging lunatic who probably shouldn’t be driving in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to ask!
I hate when people are afraid to ask for things they want or speak up about things they don’t want! IT’S YOUR CAR. YOU ARE DRIVING AWAY WITH IT. LOVE IT! Unless you bite their head off first, chances are they will not bite your head off for asking the questions… Does this come in a different color, is there a sunroof option, are these all brand new tires, was this car used as a farm animal transportation vehicle, has this car been in any accidents and used to be a different car? All good things to ask! You don’t know who the previous owner was or what sorts of things they were into. Do you want to take a black light to your current car…. Think about that when purchasing your next car and get all the facts.
Everything is negotiable. I repeat, EVERYTHING is negotiable. From the price, warranties, service agreements, loan options to decals and free sandwiches, everything is negotiable. What is the worst thing they can say…no? Okay, decide if the deal is still worth it and either take it or move on until you find what you are looking for. You don’t put in a offer for a home at asking price.. That would be ridiculous, what if you could save $20,000. So why would you just take the sticker price of a car at face value and be comfortable with it? If you are not good at negotiating (*cough* Ryan *cough*) then bring someone with you who is, typically your dad or abrasive friend.
Test Drive, Test Drive, Test Drive
There is no way to know how a car feels unless you drive it. You can learn a lot about a car from a simple test drive. Go over bumps and listen for any clinks or clacks, turn the stereo at full volume and check out the bass (very important), get on a major highway and accelerate as fast as you can, then take it down a back road to make sure it can handle the rough spots. The test drive is when you will feel a connection with your car. You wouldn’t get married before taking your spouse for a test drive, would you?
Most mechanics will take a look at a car before you buy it for pretty cheap (like $20). That small expense is well worth it to save you from potentially having to spend thousands on repairs after you’ve bought a lemon. No matter how new or used, take your car to a mechanic for a quick run through before any big decisions. Ask about the maintenance requirements for the make and model and factor that into your decision.
Check Kelley Blue Book
If you aren’t already checking Kelley Blue Book before buying a car, you need to start NOW! KBB is the bomb-diggity when it comes to evaluating the worth of a car. Input the make, model, year, mileage, and whatever else they ask you on the survey and it will show you what that car is worth on the market. If you find a car that is under the KBB value, like I did, do your research. My car was a little high on the miles but I got it checked out at the mechanic and got the thumbs up to buy it. The KBB evaluation may help in leveraging when you go to negotiate as well.
Get an Insurance Quote
The make, model and year of the car are all factors on your insurance rates. The astronomical cost every 6 months for car insurance is not usually the first thing someone thinks about before purchasing a new car. Insurance can be a steep cost but there are ways cut down by doing your research and getting quotes for different makes and models. A BMW is going to be more expensive to insure than a Toyota. Keep that in mind while looking at new and used cars. Allstate or Progressive are good sources for a free car insurance quote to see where you line up.