So, you’re about to buy your first car. Congratulations! But before you sign on the dotted line, there’s a number of things you should think about. If you’re like most people, then buying a car is a large financial and possibly emotional investment, so take the time to make sure you do it right.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of buying a new car, and when the salesman says there’s only one left on the lot, you may feel like grabbing the keys right then. But keep your options open as you look at your first several cars. Note what you like and don’t like about the different models and even the dealerships themselves. There’s no harm in walking out of a dealership empty handed — who knows, you may be back in a few days if you really fall in a love with one particular car.
Make a List
After you’ve looked at a few cars and have an idea of what you really want and need in a car, make a list. In one column, write down absolute necessities in your future car. Perhaps you need four wheel drive for harsh winters, or a roomy backseat for carting around friends and children. If you plan on towing anything, you’ll need to make sure to get a large enough engine, or maybe you need a sizable trunk for hauling. In another column, write down things you would really like in a car, but don’t absolutely need. This may include the car’s color, or a specific stereo system. Don’t budge on your necessities, and remember that the always come before the “wants.”
Haggle, Haggle, Haggle
Even after you’ve expressed interest in a particular car, don’t be afraid to walk away from it if the salesman just won’t give you a good enough deal. This is, after all, a huge financial investment, and you want to feel secure in every aspect of your decision. If one salesman won’t meet your financial requests, perhaps another one at a different dealership will.
Find a Good Mechanic
Every responsible car owner needs a reliable mechanic. Ask around with friends, coworkers, and family members. Those close to you will often give the most honest reviews, to find out if there are any particularly helpful mechanics in your area. You can use Angie’s List or other review sites to further investigate the recommendations, or stop by the shop to talk with the mechanic in person.
Expand Your Sense of Humor
Now that you’ve added an entirely new aspect into your life, it’s time to have some fun with it. There’s a whole subculture of car fanatics, but you don’t have to be into street racing to enjoy the side benefits of being a car owner. Subscribe to some mailing lists, add yourself to some social media groups, and start browsing the internet for the funniest car memes. More than anything else, enjoy your purchase and that new car smell.