Buying your first car is a big deal, and it’s not an easy feat if you’re unfamiliar with how the car buying process works. Your friends and family will give you advice for buying a used car, but here are four pointers they probably won’t think to share:
1. You don’t have to settle for a make or model you don’t want
When you tell someone you’re looking for a BMW for your first car, they might say you’re better off looking for the first working car you can find. That would make sense if the car you want is scarce or out of your price range, but that’s not always the case.
According to the Ipswitch Advertiser, Australia’s top five first cars are the Toyota Corolla, Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Pulsar. All of these cars have been popular for years, so they’re readily available used. The top five first cars in the U.S. include mostly SUVs, a van, and smaller cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic. Likewise, those cars are abundant in used car lots across the U.S.
It’s okay to have expensive “first car taste”
It’s perfectly okay if you don’t want a Toyota or Honda for your first car. If you want a BMW, there’s no reason you need to settle for a Toyota. There are just as many BMWs available as Toyotas – you just have to look. If you discover the specific model you want is out of your budget even as a used car, then it would be wise to look for another model. However, don’t abandon the idea of a specific make and model just because people tell you to.
If you need to spend an extra few months saving up some cash for the car you really want, it will be worth the wait.
2. It’s okay to only care about comfort
If you’re not interested in horsepower or cylinders, don’t worry about the engine specs. If all you need is a car to get around in that happens to be comfortable, choose your car based on comfort. If the driver’s seat feels good and you can comfortably reach all of the controls, you’ve got clear vision through all the windows, and the car is in good shape, take it.
Maybe you don’t care what your first car looks like on the outside. You can find a good deal on the car you want if it needs a paint job or is scratched up.
3. You can bring a used car to a mechanic before you buy it
It’s crucial to have a used car inspected by a third-party mechanic before buying it. This will be done at your expense. Most mechanics offer a used car inspection, and it shouldn’t cost more than $200.
Although used car lots have their own mechanics who make repairs and provide reports on each car, you should take it to an independent mechanic to have it checked out. You have no way to know if the dealership’s in-house mechanic is being compensated to hide issues or make repairs in an unprofessional manner. A pre-purchase inspection will verify functionality and check for tire wear, brake pad condition, suspension issues, engine problems, and trouble codes. The inspection will also identify issues like frame damage, poor previous repair work, flood damage, and fire damage.
4. It’s okay to buy a used car
Some people see buying their first car brand new as a way to build credit. That might be true, but you don’t need to put your creditworthiness on the line for a car you may not want to keep long-term.
Buying your first car is exciting, and you might like the car you choose for a year or two until you drive other people’s cars and find something better. If you’re stuck with $500/month payments on a new car, the process of selling it will be complicated.
Used cars are the best option for a first car simply because they’re less expensive and less of a commitment. Plus, a new car loses significant value the moment you drive it off the lot.
Happy car hunting
No matter what make and model you choose – whether it’s used or new – have fun buying your first car. Remember to get a third-party inspection and check the Blue Book value before agreeing on a purchase price and/or purchase terms.