Whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, buying a car is a big and important milestone. Apart from making daily to-dos much easier, a car gives you freedom, and that’s one of the most important upsides of car ownership. However, to get everything right, car buying is a process that involves forward thinking:
Define Your Needs
Not all car ownership is the same, and the first thing to consider before going shopping are your everyday needs. Do you need a city commuter with amazing consumption, or a big family wagon, or an SUV? Will your perfect car be a reliable workhorse, and if so, do you need a ute? Maybe a sports car, or a convertible fits your needs best? A car needs to be practical first and everything else second, especially if it’s a daily driver. So, by defining your needs and expectations, you’ll be making the most important step towards a good buy and rewarding car ownership.
New or Used?
A dilemma many of us face is between buying a new or second hand car. Naturally, a new car is more expensive than its used counterpart, but it offers perks such as factory warranty and maximum lifespan of its vital parts. On the other hand, a used car will leave you with more money in your pocket, and well looked after used cars can be as reliable as new ones. Also, if you’re buying used, you can find examples that are still under factory warranty, and you’ll pay considerably less for them. Regarding this dilemma, there’s also the matter of financing, and that’s where new cars are in the lead. You could get yourself a new car via leasing or by making monthly payments, but with a used car, it’s mostly a single payment.
Set the Initial Budget
Regardless if you’re in for a new car or a used one, setting a firm initial budget is the first true eliminating factor in choosing the right car. From that point, you’ll have a clearer image of what cars are at your disposal, and you’ll be able make your shortlist much easier. You should also consider that there are some differences when buying new versus buying second hand. When buying a new car, it’s much easier to go over the budget because of so many optional extras you’ll be persuaded into checking at the dealership for just a slightly bigger monthly rate. But, if you choose to go for a used car, your negotiating skills can save you a bit (or a lot), which is almost impossible in the dealerships.
Check Subsequent Costs
Things you mustn’t forget are subsequent costs that come after buying a car. There are annual insurance and registration costs, and more importantly, regular maintenance costs. Yes, a second hand sports car you can get for dirt cheap may sound like a good idea, but not if you calculate the costs of keeping it healthy and running. For getting this one right, you should check for reliability issues and cost of original parts with your mechanic, or someone who has the car you are looking to buy. Also, checking consumer reports will help you get a better picture of how costly a car could be in the longer run.
In addition to insurance, overall reliability and potential repair costs; fuel consumption is a very important factor as well. So, buying that affordable and tempting second hand gas guzzler could end up costing you a lot after you’ve covered significant kilometres. If your planned annual travel is not high, and you really want all that power under the hood, then just go for it!
Experience the Cars
After you’ve made a shortlist of cars you’ll be able to afford buying, insuring and keeping on the road, it’s time to see what they’re made of. Find your local dealers online and call private sellers who sell decent examples and schedule test drives. Inspecting a car in person and driving it will give you the best insight of its qualities and flaws, and it will make your list shorter because there’s a chance you’ll find some entries underwhelming.
At the test drive, don’t be shy to ask as many questions as you wish and to thoroughly experience every important feature of the car. For example, if you’re buying a family car, be sure to inspect rear room, boot space and practicality, child safety equipment and ride quality. With an urban commuter, check for things like tight space maneuverability, turning circle, brakes, stop-and-go situations etc. If you’re buying a used car, always bring a trusted mechanic or an experienced friend who could help you point out potential issues the seller failed to mention. That way, you’ll be aware of subsequent costs of sorting them out, and if the rest of the car is in good order you’ll have some leverage in negotiating the price.
Making the Final Decision
If all cars are still on the list, that’s not necessarily bad, because it means you’ve been wise in choosing your perfect car. In that case, you’ll have to sleep it over or let the emotions drive you, because you’ve got the rational part just right. Then, it’s time to concentrate on the outside looks, cockpit appeal, details like infotainment and other convenient features that will make your driving experience more pleasant.
Once you’ve eliminated what you need to, you’ll be ready to make the final decision. Now that you’re a proud car owner, remember that regular maintenance is extremely important, as it’s the key factor in keeping your car in perfect working order, and you and your passengers safe.