Lessons Learned: From Newbie Car Buyers
Buying a new car can be an exciting but also very stressful process, especially if you'v never done it before. G and I recently bought a new (used) car and the experience was far from exciting and more on the end of extremely stressful. Here are some lessons that we learned when buying our first car together.
Know Your Price Range
The best thing you can do is call your bank and get pre-approved for a car loan. This is beneficial in two ways. The first is you will know exactly how much you can afford and what your monthly payments will look like. The second is that you can go into the dealership knowing what you can pay and turn down any offer that goes above that. FYI we didn't do this and we're totally shocked to learn we couldn't afford our (my) dream car.
Do Your Research
We bought our new car on a whim. We had been talking about getting a new car but when I heard that there would be a tent sale my ears perked up and I wanted to be there. Yep, some of us actually do go to those things and some of us actually buy cars from them. Totally guilty, and it was totally a naive decision. After a few hours on the lot we found ourselves signing the papers for a new car. I love our new car but I also know that if we had done our research and the above step we may have gotten a better deal and a newer car. Life lessons can kick you hard in the butt sometimes.
Once you know your price range it's easier to find vehicles that fall into that range which in turn makes your research on the best car for you and your family easier. Making a list of pros and cons is a good way to weed out which cars are not the best fit for you.
Better Credit = A Better Loan Rate
t 23 years old I have fairly decent credit but not a whole lot of credit history. This means that the interest rate on a car loan would be higher than if I had a super good credit score. Luckily, my husband has a good score and was able to get a great rate in the loan. Paying bills on time, especially on loans and credit cards helps to build your credit.
Buying Used? Check EVERYTHING
Most used car dealerships will tell you just about anything for you to sign those papers. We spent a good hour going over "everything" the dealership said they had checked on our car. Little did we know a few days later we would be back at the dealership getting a rear window fixed. Guys, we totally did not check to see if everything works! If that doesn't indicate new car buyer "newbie" I don't know what does. Thankfully, the dealership took care of it for us no problem but I'm willing to bet other dealerships may not be.
Carfax or Accident Reports, Maintenance Reports
It's really important to know if the car you are buying (if used) has been in any accidents or not. Severe accidents can leave lasting damage to the frame and overall structure of the car leading to uneven ware of the tires which eventually equals costly repairs and sooner replacement of your tires and sometimes even the brakes. In short, more money coming out of your pocket in the long run.
In addition to the accident reports looking at the maintenance reports of the vehicle is another way to tell if the vehicle is in good shape. Has the car been taken in for regular oil changes, tire rotations, or other regularly scheduled maintenance? If so, chances are the previous owners took good care of the car and there's a slightly less chance that something will go wrong right after you drive it off the lot.
Take Your Time
Jumping into a new car and signing the papers right away can be a rash decision if you haven't thought it through all the way. Knowing what you want, and how much you are willing to spend will help to slow down the process a little bit. Walking on to a dealership can be overwhelming and discouraging but doing you research goes a long way.
Have you recently bought a new car? What was your experience? Any lessons learned to tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!