15 Tips For Buying Your First Car

First Time Buyer

Buying your first car? You’re probably excited, but also may be anxious or confused. There are many things to consider before driving out of the dealership with your new vehicle. To feel more confident at the dealership, check out these tips for first-time car buyers:

1. Establish a budget.

Calculate your estimated monthly expenses to see how much you can afford to pay for a car. Buying a vehicle is a big investment and you’ll probably need financing. Don’t forget to add auto insurance and maintenance to your budget before calculating your ideal monthly car payment.

2. New or used?

This is a question you should answer before you get to the dealership. We have a whole article on the subject on our website. Think this through carefully, then stick to your guns. If a used car is better for your needs and budget, don’t get talked into buying a new car.

3. Do your research.

It’s easier than ever to find information on your desired vehicle type. The Internet provides a plethora of facts about car models, recalls, prices, gas mileage, cheaper best alternatives and so much more. Spend time researching the car you like and compare it to similar models for more perspective.

4. Shop for what you need.

It’s tempting to run right over to a car with the big sale stickers, but a great deal doesn’t mean the car will meet your transportation needs. A sale on small sedans should not affect your buying decision if you want a truck for your new job. Don’t let the salesperson push you toward a car you don’t want. The same goes for flashy commercials or rebate deals. Stick to what you know you need.

5. Don’t tell the salesperson what color you want.

Your salesperson knows you want to leave with a car. By telling them a superficial detail like your favorite color, you put more cards into their deck. Suddenly, all of the red cars on the lot are worth a lot more. A good first-time car buyer tip is to pick a few colors that you DON’T want and talk about those.

6. Take the car for a test drive.

While doing previous research is important, so is testing the vehicle you’re checking out at the dealer. How you feel behind the wheel is crucial to your decision. Ask the dealer to go on a test drive and check the following while on the road: comfortability, visibility, engine, transmission, acceleration, brakes and the navigation system. Drive in an area similar to where you live to get a feel for the car.

7. The salesperson doesn’t prefer cash.

You might think that pulling out a wad of cash during the negotiation will get you a round of applause and a lower price. The truth is, dealerships make money off financing. They want you to finance the car through them, not pay for it fully in cash. So, don’t expect a cash offer to be a turning point in your negotiation.

8. Shop around for financing.

The best place to check for better rates is a credit union. Generally speaking credit unions offer better interest rates on loans than dealerships and regular banks. Go to a few credit unions to find the best rate, and then bring your financing with you to the dealership.

9. Never negotiate based on monthly payments.

Your salesperson might start the negotiation with you by saying, “We can offer you monthly payments of xxx.” Stop them right there and say how much you are willing to pay in total for the car (tax and title included). It is much easier to get tricked into paying more when the deal is broken down into monthly payments.

10. Your biggest power is your ability to walk away.

We already mentioned that salespeople have some good cards in their deck. Your best card is that you can get up and leave at any time. That being said don’t threaten to walk if you’re not really willing to leave. If the salesperson calls your bluff and you stay, you’ve given your biggest power over to them.

11. Don’t fall for any tricks.

The stereotypical used car salesperson may not exist at every dealership, but they’re out there. One of the classic tricks is the bait and switch. You might see a price online or on TV that sounds great, only to get to the dealership and find the deal has expired, or the cars have all been sold, etc. Now that you are in their showroom, the salesperson will offer you a much higher-priced vehicle. Don’t fall into this trap!

12. Tell them upfront about your trade-in.

Like having cash, some people think having a trade-in vehicle is the ace in their hand. The truth is, the dealership will offer you the same price on your trade-in no matter what. It’s not going to change the price of the car. The only thing saving the news about your trade-in will do is cause a headache when the salesperson has to redo all of your paperwork to include it.

13. Shop on the last day of the month.

One of the best first-time car buyer tips is to wait for the last day of the month, or even better, the last day of the quarter, to go car shopping. Car manufacturers set quotas for dealerships to meet each quarter. If this number of cars is sold, the salespeople get a bonus and, as the end of the quarter approaches, the deals on cars can get better and better.

14. Read your contract carefully.

If you’re ready to buy, don't let the salesperson rush you through the contract especially if you decide to finance through the dealership. Read the contract very carefully. Watch for extras that they may have slipped in, such as an extended warranty. If your car is newer, it may already qualify for a warranty through the dealer. If you accidentally sign up for a warranty you don’t need, check your contract;you should have a few days to cancel it.

15. If you feel uncomfortable, leave.

A car is a huge purchase. If you feel uneasy, you can and should leave. Unless you’ve signed the contract, you may change your mind. If you take a night to think about it, they may ask you to sign what’s called a buyer’s order. This form is NOT binding. Even if you’ve signed a buyer’s order, you can still back out of the deal.Now that you have your new car, it’s time to start thinking about auto insurance options. Infinity Insurance can help you find a policy that meets your budget and needs.

Call one of our agents at 1-800-INFINITY or visit our Auto Quote Page to receive a quote.

The materials available in the Knowledge Center are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact legal counsel to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of this website or any of the links contained within the website do not create representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.