How to Pick Your First Car

Whether you’re 16 or 60, choosing your first car can be one of the most exciting times in your life, but it can also be one of the most difficult. Buying a car is a big decision and a big purchase, and you need to make sure that you are accurately prepared to make the right decision. The following tips will help you choose the right first car for you.

1. Know how much you can spend.

The price of the car you can afford is going to be the biggest factor in your purchasing decision. Most younger drivers are limited to the amount of money they have saved over the years. If a teenager’s parents are buying the first car, the teen is limited to the budget set by the parents.

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Before you start looking at your dream car, it’s important to know what you have to spend. Don’t just look at sticker prices either. Along with the price of the car comes additional fees, such as taxes, titles and licenses. If you have a $5,000 limit for your first car, you shouldn’t choose a car with a $5,000 price tag.

Nicer, newer cars are going to have higher price tags than older, more basic models. If you have a small budget, you’re going to have to settle for an older car with less bells and whistles. If you have a larger budget, you will be able to purchase a newer, fancier vehicle.

2. Know what you need.

Along with price, you have to choose a car that fits your needs. Do you travel a lot to and from school or work? If so, you’ll need to choose a car that gets good gas mileage. Do you have a large family? If so, you will need to choose a car that can fit everyone comfortably and is safe.

Everyone has features in a car they need and features in a car they want. In order to choose the right first car, you’re going to have to sacrifice some of your wants in order to achieve all of your needs. If you really had your heart set on a green car, you may have to go with a different color if it means driving a car that gets good gas mileage or is better for your family.

3. New vs. used.

Most people want to buy a brand new car, but your budget is the deciding factor in whether or not you’ll be driving something new or used. New cars are more expensive than used cars, so if you want something new, be prepared to shell out more money. Though you’ll be spending more, you don’t run the risk of the car ever being in an accident or severely damaged.

On the other hand, used cars are cheaper than new cars. Some used cars are also in fantastic shape and may have only been driven by their previous owner a handful of times, leaving it in pristine condition. Though you may be able to snatch up a great car for less money, used cars have a history. If you’re going to buy a used car, always run a CarFax report to see if it’s ever been in an accident or a flood. Knowing this information up front can save you from costly repairs in the future.

4. Have it checked out.

If you know a mechanic, bring them with you when looking at cars. They’ll be able to check the car for basic upkeep and let you know if you’re getting a good deal or a lemon. If you don’t have a mechanic you can bring with you, stop at your local mechanic and ask them if they’d be able to look at a car for you. Some mechanics will run basic tests for free (or a small fee). If your mechanic doesn’t offer this service, ask them if they can provide you with certain signs to look for before making your purchase. This information can help you down the line.

5. Understand that it’s your first car.

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We all have our dream car in mind, but it’s important to know that most people cannot afford their dream car right away. When choosing your first car, it’s more important to choose a car that fits in your budget and has most, if not all, of your needs (and hopefully some of your wants). Understand that first cars don’t last forever, and someday, you’ll be able to afford your dream car.

Your first car is a big purchase, and it’s a decision and purchase you’ll never forget. Everyone remembers their first car, and it’s always going to be special to you. Make sure to know what you can afford, know what features are best for you and have it looked at by a professional before taking it home.