Life was simpler when we were selecting fancy cars for the NFS races. We just needed to look at features, choose the one we thought was the best, and hit play! Car buying is anything but simple when we do it in the real world because decision-making involves so much more than just looking at features.
All that aside, this is probably an exciting moment for you. Whether you are buying a car for the first time or not, following a guide is always the right choice. Instead of creating any more suspense, let’s directly look at the basic guide to buying a car.
Basic Guide to Buying a Car
We prepared this guide keeping the average car buyer in mind and have structured it accordingly. However, it is sound car buying advice, so keep reading even if one or two points don’t necessarily apply to you.
- Choosing Between New or Used
The very first choice you need to make is between a new and a used car. Both options have their respective pros and cons, but context is important here.
If you are younger and are buying your first car after carefully saving up your money, we recommend opting for a used model instead of a new one. We know it sounds off-putting because we have been where you are.
However, new cars are substantially more expensive than used cars, which means your savings can afford a better model if it is used. You can always ensure you choose the one in better condition to ensure it lasts you a few years, at least.
However, if this is not the first car you’re buying, and you have the savings and income you will need to afford one, get yourself a new car.
- Look at Your Financials
The most important part of the entire discussion comes down to affordability. When buying a car, always pay attention to two details:
- Down payment
- Monthly payment
Your down payment is the money you will need to pay upfront to take the car home. Your monthly payment is the remaining price of the car divided by the number of months of the car loan, plus interest.
Your car-related savings need to cover the down payment, and you should be earning enough to afford the monthly payments in addition to:
- Other loans you are paying off
- Monthly essentials
- Emergency savings
If the situation looks a bit tight, it is better to choose a different option. The next best option is also going to work well and will become a reliable friend in need!
- Selecting Financing Options
Once you have finalised the type of car and your range, research available financing options. You need to know which organisation you will be choosing for your car loan because it will affect your monthly payments, payment flexibility, and chances of timeline adjustment in the future if needed.
Factors that Affect your Negotiation
How well your car loan negotiation goes will depend on your credit score, your current job, and your average monthly expenses. Make sure you thoroughly research the lenders to avoid ending up with predatory loan policies.
These details are crucial, and taking them into account is the best decision you can make for your future self.
- Match the Features to Your Needs
We know it is tempting to get the car with a sunroof but do you need it as much as you need a strong temperature control system? Climate change is creating extreme temperatures, and having a good cooling system will come in handy when the sun is trying to make a roast out of you.
The comparison is just one example. The point is to prioritise necessities over fanciness to get more value out of the money you are spending. The more practical your decision is, the easier your life will be.
- Check Expert Reviews
No matter what the marketing material or the salesperson says, never buy a car without checking out expert reviews or news. When buying Mazda CX-5, we checked out multiple reviews on CarExpert from car owners and experts alike to get a good idea about how much the experience matched the marketing claims.
Our car had good reviews, but there have been several cases where customers got duped into buying a faulty model or barely escaped the ruse by accidentally coming across some poor reviews. The former happens a lot more than the letter, so do your research.
- Go For a Test Drive
No matter what anyone says or claims, you cannot know how much you like a car’s drive until you experience it. This car will be your primary source of transportation for some time. The last thing you want is to buy a car you can’t feel comfortable in.
Make sure you request a test drive before finalising your decision irrespective of whether you are buying a new or used car.
- Final Inspection
Lastly, always get your final choice professionally inspected before buying it. Dealers keep finding newer and better ways of hiding mileage and history of repairs for used cars. They also charge premiums for the pristine condition without disclosing that the original owners sold it off due to frequent overheating of the engine.
You might be able to catch some of the marketing gimmicks and lies if you have a keen eye, but it usually takes a professional to tell how much of their story is true. The dealer might also introduce you to a contracted inspector backing their statements, but they may have a biased opinion due to being on the dealer’s payroll.
We recommend talking to a mechanic you trust and requesting them to inspect your selection for an agreed-upon fee. Since they are an independent party, they are more likely to share an honest assessment of the car’s probable history, parts, expected lifespan, etc.
In a nutshell, our basic guide to buying a car focuses on prioritising practicality and affordability over luxury and excessive debt. You can ease up on this a little if you are in a stronger financial position and it isn’t your first car, but the rule loosely still applies.
We hope you found this guide helpful and wish you luck with the car buying process.