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Buying your first car is exciting, even if it is a used car, it’s still your own car.
The trick is though, to find and buy the right car in the first place.
Here’s all you need to know to be able to do just that.
Go For Simple and Functional
Look I get it, it’s so tempting to buy some sexy sports car, especially since buying used means that that makes it so much more affordable to buy out of your usual financial scope.
But the thing is unless you want to buy another car in a year or two because you’ve outgrown that one or it’s outlived its usefulness then you need to be smart about this purchase.
Let’s say, for example, you’re a senior in high school (talk about pressure to fit in and impress) and you are about to buy your first car.
You should think about your plans for the future and whether or not this car can ‘grow’ with you.
Are you planning on going to college? If so where? Close to home or farther away?
Or are you planning on traveling? In which case you don’t necessarily need something long term.
These are the types of questions you will need to ask yourself to determine what type of car you need.
Buy From a Dealer
Yes, you can get a car cheaper in a private sale, no that isn’t always a good thing.
The thing is, buying a used car is really a gamble to say the least, because there is no real way of knowing what you’re getting until the surprises pop up like a snake from under the toilet seat in an abandoned warehouse.
Don’t get me wrong, you can get a super reliable and adorable used car that will serve you well and you will never have unnecessary problems with, and I do hope by reading this it helps you accomplish that.
But the fact is though, despite how many stories a private seller will tell you, you’re still not going to know the truth.
They only have one care to sell and they will tell you whatever you want to hear to do that.
A used car dealer may only be slightly better, but there’s something to be said for having to protect their reputation, which let’s face it – the internet makes it so easy to destroy.
With that said, do research dealers beforehand and avoid those who are slippery as hell.
Know Your Budget
It’s easy to get overzealous when buying your first car, and for good reason, it’s such an incredible experience and it can open up so many doors for your future.
With that said though, if you have the money or have been pre-approved for a loan, you can feel like a kid in a candy store with his back pocket filled with change.
The experience can get the better of you if you don’t keep your head.
Work out a budget for your car and stick to it.
Also keep in mind that if you have a set budget, car salesmen won’t be able to so easily bait you into buying something flashy and way less functional.
Having a budget will also allow you to keep your expectations realistic throughout this experience, especially if you’ve already zeroed in on the type of car you need.
Heck, you may even have a specific make and model in mind already.
The point is, the more specific you are in your search the less likely you are to end up with the crash after the sugar rush.
Check The Car Out
It’s quite easy to see if a car has been taken care of really well, but on the flipside, it’s also really tricky to see if the previous owners have hidden problems really well.
Which is why it’s important to employ some common sense and check the car out for yourself.
For instance, you should check out the exterior of the car for dents, scratches (on the body work as well as windows), mismatched paint (which can be a sign of major prior damage) and any damage to the lights or external fixtures.
When you take the car for a spin you should test all of its dashboard features, listen for any strange or ill-sounding noises and also stop at random (safely though) for a minute or two in order to check for any leaking fluids.
Of course, you should also test the brakes every which way you can, as well as windows, door locks, AC and ventilation, and anything else you can possibly test for.
I also highly recommend that you get a trusted, independent mechanic to come to inspect the car’s engine and other mechanics for you.
Research The Car
Do you know what a Lemon Car is?
It’s a car that’s been manufactured with defects, it seems perfectly fine but breaks down every two minutes.
Luckily there are laws to protect you in that regard but that’s only one potential issue your car can have.
Used cars can be stolen cars, they can be frankenshanks – where they’re made of many different cars and the pieces are all held together by lies and illusions, they can be fool’s gold.
This is one of the many reasons it’s important to research the car properly, check out that the VIN number matches the car, and ask for the vehicle’s service log.
This is the only way to find out if you are being hoodwinked.
Think About Fuel Consumption & Maintenance
Alright, so the reason I keep telling you to stick to a budget and to be realistic about what you buy is that at the end of the day you want to be able to you know, afford to drive the car you bought.
That means buying something with reasonable maintenance costs, i.e. services, upkeep etc. so that when the car breaks down you can actually afford to fix it.
Personally, that’s one of the roughest pitfalls in buying a used car – you may be able to afford the car now but are you able to afford the car daily?
In terms of fuel consumption, it’s exactly the same deal, if you buy a giant SUV that you don’t really need since you’re single, then you’ll have to use all of your potential date money to feed that giant SUV.
It’s certainly worth it to take a minute and think about the everyday costs of a car before jumping into a hasty purchase.