Buying your very first car is a rite of passage, no matter how old you are when you do it. A car is the biggest symbol of independence, even if you own your own house or have moved out of your parents into a rental. A car allows you the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever your budget for petrol allows you to. You get to go wherever you want in your own time; there is no timetable or ticket time to adhere to when it comes to your own car. You can set off as early or as late as you like, which makes the world really open up to you.
The thing is, buying a new car is a challenge, never mind buying a first car! Where do you start? Who do you speak to so that you know you’re not getting ripped off? What cars do you even look at? Does the mileage mean anything? These are all questions that you will ask yourself as a first-time car buyer. It’s a minefield out there when it comes to buying cars and you really need to do your research before you decide to head out and brave the car forecourts. We’ve put together seven simple rules for buying your very first car, whether you are aiming for finding a Honda or you are heading to look for a sleek sports car. You need to know that you should choose a car that you can live with and one that you can afford long-term. Check out those seven rules below.
That first car purchase should be done with a little bit of common sense and a lot of time. You cannot choose a car with your emotions; you need to do some research and decide on the type of car you would like for your first one. Some people choose a car with lower value that has a little bit of history – makes it easier to swallow if you nick it on the kerb! Be conservative with your choices, too, as you’ll hopefully be living with your car for a couple of years. You need to also think about the insurance company that you will be going with, and how much this could cost you as a first time driver on the road.
Figure your figures
Affordability is a big part of your choice when it comes to a new car. It’s not just the sticker price that you need to budget for. Cars come with repairs, fuel, insurance, taxes and if you are feeling flush, upgrades. You may not be using finance to purchase your car, but you still need to consider that if you don’t have enough money for the outright cost of a car, you may go down that route. Work out your budget from the very beginning and go armed with your figures.
Pick your ride
Once you have your budget in mind, you need to actually choose your car. There is so much more to it, though, than walking up to a shiny machine on the forecourt and slapping down your name! You will need to ask for the full service history of the vehicle, which will include a record of all servicing that the car has ever had. Always check the mileage of the car and check that mileage against the service history to find out whether the previous owner has been taking care of it.
You’ll be looking at all the bells and whistles of the car that has caught your eye, but you really need to be checking out the airbags, whether the car has an anti-lock braking system and other safety features that the car may have. The owner handbook for the car should be in the glove compartment of the vehicle, but if it isn’t there you should turn heel and walk away from the sale. The previous owner would have left it there if they actually looked after their car.
Count the keys
Believe it or not, car keys are rather expensive to replace. They should be handed to you upon signature on the contract, and you should count them to double check that they are all there. Once again, it’s important to know that people who look after their car and their car keys don’t misplace them!
Read those T’s & C’s
When you are dealing with a car buyer’s contract, you need to actually read the terms. There’s no use signing to say that you understand them when you don’t, because if you one day find yourself in trouble with your car, you are going to have issues claiming that you didn’t know. Ask questions and don’t stop asking until you understand the entire contract properly.
Always bring a friend or someone with you who you can trust when it comes to cars. No matter what they tell you about the vehicle, though, always go for a test drive. Take time to get a feel for the seat adjustments, the mirrors, and fiddle around until you feel comfortable in that driving seat. If there is anyone who refuses you a test drive, you should not be buying that car. A proper car salesman would allow you to drive the car and test it out. Otherwise, what are they hiding? They should always be in the car with you when you test drive, obviously, but by saying no, they are telling you something isn’t right.
Ultimately, when it comes to choosing your very first car you should always be as careful as possible. You need to make good, smart decisions and not be led by the shiny colours and the horsepower of a vehicle. Your car has to last you some time, and you need to be smart about this choice. It doesn’t matter how much you want a car, you need to follow the rules to buy one securely and successfully. Take your time, don’t rush and you’ll be fine.
Car Images courtesy of Vauxhall Motors