How to Buy Your First Car.

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Everyone remembers their first car. The excitement, the responsibility, the sense of freedom and of finally being an adult, even if you were thirty when that first car came to be. It’s a big step and a big decision. Don’t screw it up.

Eight: Tips to Choosing Your First Car.

One: Ask yourself, what is the car for? Do I need it to get back and forth to school or work so is gas mileage more important? Or is it more of a way to freedom on the weekends? Establish the need for the car and build around that. All Wheel Drive? Only in town? Going to college in another state? What is the car going to be doing? Impressing friends? When looking at cars, think about whether that car will get you where you want to go, will it do what I need it to do.  It really isn’t important for you to like the color or whether it has leather seats and a big back seat.

Two: Get a used car for your first car. Don’t buy new. You will end up paying way too much, and you may not be prepared to take care of a car. Get a ‘starter’ car. You will cry when something bad happens to it-an accident, hail damage, whatever-but you won’t cry as hard as you would if you had purchased a new car. You can trade the used one in for a new one at a later date, once you have a better understanding of the responsibility you are taking on.

Three: Visit many different lots to find the car that is right for you within a price range that you can afford. Think about your budget and what you can afford each month and upfront. If you think you can look at a car with the eye of an informed consumer, check out craigslist at www.craigslist.org , or your local want adds, but be aware that the current owner may not even know what all is wrong with the car they are trying to sell. You will also need to think about how much insurance is, and taxes and tags for the car, and how much gas and maintenance will cost each month. It is not just the car payment you will need to factor into your monthly bills, and even if you are paying for the car all at once, you will still have those new monthly expenses. You want to be able to afford to drive the car when you have it, so look for a good deal.

Four: Check the Kelley Blue Book Value of the car you want. You can do this at www.kbb.com . This site will give you a rough idea of what other people think you should pay for the car you want, just plug in the information. There are also links to a carfax report, insurance quotes and what not, so you can get a little more information on the vehicle and what you can expect to be paying.

Five: Don’t pay sticker price. Ever. Haggle down. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, it is okay to bring a family member or friend for this time honored tradition. Start low, and mention if you found the same type of vehicle someplace else for less, even if this one is nicer. Mention a low quote from the Blue Book. You have the money and the power, and they don’t want to lose a sale, but car dealers get paid more if they sell the car for more. They aren’t looking out for your best interests, they are looking out for their own. Look for special deals and incentives, but make sure when you are shopping about that they actually are good deals. Refer to number four and number three, and don’t get talked into something you really can’t afford just because you are excited.

Six: Take the car for a test drive. Make sure that there are no alarming noises or puffs of exhaust, or that the dealer doesn’t need to do anything ‘special’ to get the car started. Take it around some corners and see if the alignment is good, the breaks responsive, the air and heat are working, etc..

Seven: After the test drive, ask to take the car of your choice to a mechanic of your choice before purchase to have major systems checked. Most mechanics will do this on appointment, and will give your prospective car a good cursory going over. They will charge a small fee, but choose someone you trust even if they are more expensive.

And Eight: Take care of your car after purchase. Look at the owners manual that should be with the car at time of purchase, and keep up with scheduled maintenance like oil changes and air filter changes. Keep it moderately clean. Make sure your tires are properly inflated-the tire pressure should be on the tire, and there is a gage to check it at the air pump at the gas station. You have spent (or someone for you) a considerable amount on this purchase, so treat it well!

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