Buying your first car is exciting, but it can also be intimidating if you aren’t sure what to do. Take your time to identify what you are looking for. Are you after a new or used vehicle? How much can you afford to spend? What will the terms be? A monthly payment you can afford at a decent interest rate makes an impact on your finances.
It is a good idea to get pre-qualified so you can feel confident for approval when you find the perfect vehicle! Take your time to shop around, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the seller. You aren’t obligated to buy a vehicle from them, and shouldn’t feel pressured to make the purchase. Check the vehicle over well inside and out and always take it for a test drive.
What are you looking for?
Think about what you would like to own. Are you interested in a two-door sporty car or a nice four-door sedan? If you travel often or commute for work, excellent fuel mileage may be high on your list. If you often haul items regularly, a truck may be best for you. Parents often find a min-van or SUV allows them the space they need for kids and shopping.
There may be certain safety features or perks you want from the vehicle. Make a list of essentials to help you narrow down your first-time car buying experience. Other items on your list may be optional, but not a deal breaker. For example, you may want a low mileage vehicle with a warranty. If it is blue, great, but you may be willing to buy a vehicle with low miles and a warranty of a different color.
New or Used?
While there are great deals on new vehicles, it doesn’t fit everyone’s budget. You may need to get into a used vehicle for now. You can drive it for a few years and then trade it in towards something newer. Take a look at both new and used options for the type of vehicle you are interested in. This type of comparison can help you decide which route to take.
Warranty or As Is
For your protection, buying your first car with a warranty is a good idea. It helps cover any unexpected issues. Vehicle repairs can add up fast, and the warranty coverage can help you avoid a bill you can’t afford. Read the terms of the warranty closely including what it covers and how long it covers the vehicle. Typically, it is for a given number of months or a given number of miles – whichever occurs first.
When you buy a vehicle as is, there is no warranty on it. The vehicle repairs will be completely your responsibility when you purchase it. Almost all new vehicles come with a generous warranty. Most used vehicles have a limited warranty on them, but there are exceptions.
What is your Price Range?
How much are you willing to spend on a vehicle? Don’t get caught up emotionally with the desire for a given vehicle! Make sure the value of it based on that year, model, and miles are worth the asking price. Such details are found online, and easy to access. The VIN# for a vehicle gives you the most accurate information on its current value.
How much will your Monthly Payments be?
Buying your first car shouldn’t be a financial burden. Make sure you can afford the monthly payments. You don’t need the stress of trying to come up with the funds each month until it is paid off. You will also need money to cover insurance and routine maintenance for the vehicle. The better interest rate you qualify for, the lower your monthly payments. Putting more money down can also help you get a lower payment.
Get Pre-Qualified without Affecting your Credit Score
Try to get pre-qualified for a first-time car loan before you find your vehicle and try to close the deal. This process won’t affect your credit score. It will share if you can be approved and how much you can be approved for. This helps you shop for a vehicle you know you can afford and you can get a loan for.
If you don’t have any credit established or you have poor credit, you can still qualify for a first-time car loan. Your interest is going to be higher than someone with established credit and a good credit score. If you can’t get pre-qualified on your own, consider asking someone to co-sign for you. They will take on the responsibility if you don’t make your vehicle payments as agreed. Their help can be a huge step towards you building your own credit worthiness.
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