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Buying a car in today’s day and age is more like a rite of passage – almost everyone will do it at some point. The range of cars is constantly increasing and some car prices might even get more and more attractive with discounts here and specials there. It’s a fun journey. But it remains a difficult task despite all that, especially for the first time buyer.
There is a lot to take into consideration, a LOT more than just the make and model of the car. But it mostly becomes a process of asking questions, questions to yourself, and most importantly, questions to the seller. And answering them honestly will make things much easier, whether you are buying new or second hand.
The First Step
The first and most important step when buying a first car should be setting a budget – AND STICKING TO IT
Step one, set the budget. It’s fine to keep it a bit flexible, but set a maximum price and make sure you keep to it. Ensure that your maximum set price includes everything that is involved in the purchase, extras and on-road costs can push you well over budget, don’t get caught out. Keep things reasonable.
You will need to consider what car meets your needs and also make sure that you can afford the ongoing costs. A manual car is usually cheaper than an automatic and might cost less to repair. You should also consider the size of the car, if you have a family – a two-door hatch is unlikely to be suitable, you may need to consider a sedan or something similar which could also be a little more expensive. The vehicle you choose will not be perfect for every situation, but it’s usually pretty easy to work out which car would be most beneficial for you and your lifestyle.
There is also the long-term cost of fuel to think about. For example, while a diesel engine can reduce fuel costs, you must also remember that these cars can be more expensive overall compared to their petrol counterparts. Maintenance also needs to be considered as part of the ongoing expenses. – Parts for specific models and makes are more expensive than others, so keep this in mind when looking at the make of the desired vehicle.
All of this just comes down to a matter of research. Think about what you are going to use the car for, and decide what things are the most important. Off-road driving or getting the kids to school? More engine power or fuel economy? Safety or size? Make a list and prioritise your needs until you are choosing between only the most important features and in doing that you will find what make and model suits you best.
Enjoying the car is important, but you might create more problems than you solve if you make a choice based on emotions alone.
The next question comes when you ask yourself – new, or used? Both should be treated differently.
When buying a NEW car one of the most daunting factors can actually be the Car dealer, Tons of Salesmen trying to convince you otherwise and pull you away from your original decision. They can be the part that makes or breaks the sale, but don’t let them get too you, Go in fully aware of your rights as a consumer and stick to your original choice, no matter how appealing anyone can make something else sound.
Do your research properly before going to the Dealership. That means you will go in confident with prices, model specifications and independent reviews that will help guide your decision making process. If you are prepared and well informed you have a stronger position over the salesperson, allowing you to set terms rather than have them decide for you because you are unsure. This knowledge continues on as the negotiations continue – be aware of what the standard features of the vehicle might be, and what is an extra you have to pay for thus you might also have more leverage for pricing.
Do not waste your money on unnecessary extras and read the fine print on things such as extended warranties – some of them might force you to service the car at that dealer, and it may end up costing you much more in the long run.
Do not be afraid to negotiate! If you time it right and keep control of the transaction, you might be able to get the price down substantially.
Dealers will often have budgets, and if you come in towards the end of a quarter or sales month, they might be willing to negotiate just that tad bit more than they normally would to get that extra sale. Also, keep in mind, New does not always mean NEW. One offered from a previous year should be cheaper than a current year model, even if the car is the same type. Lastly be sure to organize your car insurance before you leave the dealership. You can never EVER be too careful when it comes to your new car.
Considering Previously Owned?
When it comes to buying used cars it can have its own difficulties, but again, research and careful consideration will help you out. Be prepared. Know what sort of car you want and what condition it should be in, set a range for mileage as well as year model and be aware of any modifications that could have been made – these things might all affect price, not just at the outset, but also in terms of maintenance, and this could push price beyond what you want to pay.
You need to establish a basic history for the vehicle, and the life it has had. In other words look at a Full service history over partial or no service history at all. This will give you a bit more insight into potential problems you might have in the future, which will, in turn, give you a better indication of the price. A car with many owners and a high mileage could indicate a rough life, but a single owner with low mileage tends to make the car more attractive.
Give the vehicle a very thorough inspection – make sure about any imperfections or damage, or attempts to cover up the damage. Was the car involved in an accident? Is there any recon to be done which would, again, be something that can push your price way over budget? If you have a friend who is more experienced at inspecting used cars or just might have a higher car knowledge overall, and it is someone you trust, take them along, they might pick up on something you have missed.
Make sure the mechanical condition is reasonable, has the car been serviced fully, and regardless of whether or not the seller is a dealer or a private one, make sure it has a roadworthy certificate that is less than 30 days old.
Always check under the hood when making a purchase – look for a clean engine (which shows it has been maintained), and check the oil to see if it is in good condition. Look for any damage, smoke, nasty fumes or smells. Make sure tires have a deeper tread to give the best grip. Double check that all the lights are working, and are all equally bright – lights that are darker than the rest might indicate damage repairs.
New or pre-loved, when you test drive the car make sure you take it carefully. With a new car, everything should be in order but the car might not handle in a way that you feel comfortable with. And when it comes to a second hand car, the car should start immediately, and make sure there are no worrying or odd sounds coming from the engine.
When driving, test the feel and function of the steering, the brakes, and the gears. The suspension should be quiet and smooth on bumpy roads. If the car groans, creaks and is a bit twitchy or overly bouncy, it may have problems with one or more of these systems.
Make sure the interior of the car is clean, well looked after, and comfortable also remember to test the seats to make sure all the functions work.
And Drive Away Happy
In the end, buying a car is a matter of patience, careful thought, and consideration. If you don’t rush it and take your time, you should be able to get the car you need for the price you want, new or used.
Doing your research properly, and making sure you are well informed will be your best weapon. Take your time, narrow your options down, and test what you want to drive. If you have any sort of doubt it is usually best to step away and consider the matter carefully.
Don’t allow yourself be fooled or pulled into something you don’t feel comfortable with. There’s no need to hurry – and if you take it carefully, you will not only be happy with what you buy immediately, but in all of the years to follow as well.