Learning how to drive is an exciting time. A car is the first step towards a more independent lifestyle and is a symbol of freedom for many teenagers. However, learning how to drive is only the first step. Actually finding the right car for you can be a little more difficult, and it is crucial to understand the cost of owning and operating a vehicle. If you’re about to buy your first car, here are 5 things you need to figure out first.
- Your Budget and Financing Options
Before you start daydreaming about the perfect car, figure out your budget. There’s no point in getting attached to cars you can’t ultimately afford. See if your parents are willing to assist you at all so you can get a better idea of what you have to spend. There will likely be taxes and other fees, so keep this in mind as well. If you don’t think you have the budget for the car you would like, there may be other auto financing options available. Age may be a factor for these financing options, so make sure you do your research. Also consider your monthly budget for car maintenance. Make sure you can afford gas, inspections and any other problems that may arise.
- Know What You Want in a Car
Before you start researching car types, brands and models, figure out what you need in a car. Will you be the only one using it? Will you need to transport siblings, friends or family members? Do you need space to transport items for work or your hobbies? If you’re a fan of road trips, maybe the sound system is important to you. If you have a limited gas budget, you may want to rethink buying that truck. If it’s important to you that you buy a bigger vehicle, maybe you’re willing to settle for an older model and a lower upfront cost so you can afford the gas.
Once you have a better idea of your budget and your requirements for a vehicle, you can look up car reviews and narrow down your search options. Car research can be overwhelming, so the more you can narrow it down, the better. Many search tools give you the ability to pinpoint certain features, like electronics and safety. If your parents are helping you buy the car, they may have a say in which features you should get.
- Pick Your Shopping Options
Once you narrow down your options even more, you should think about where you are going to purchase the car. Many teenagers don’t have the option of buying a car brand-new, which opens up options outside of the dealership. Think about whether or not you’re willing to buy from an individual seller, since you can find a great deal this way, but you may also be looking at some more risks. Your parents or family members may have a trusted dealership they use, so this can be a great place to start. If you don’t have any leads, online reviews can tell you a lot about how satisfied customers are with their vehicles and service.
- Inspect the Vehicle
Regardless of where you decide to go car shopping, it is important to check out the vehicle before you buy. Be wary of any marks or leaks and don’t be afraid to ask about the history of the vehicle. Take the car for a test drive to see how you like driving it, to see how it handles and if there are any strange noises. Learn about any warranties or policies regarding a vehicle that has issues once you take it off the lot. If you’re buying from an individual, you need to be even more careful when you’re checking out the car since you won’t be able to return it.
Buying your first car is an exciting time, but it is important to do all of your research ahead of time. This way, you can enjoy a greater sense of freedom without having to worry about costly mistakes and hidden costs.