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Advice for First-Time Car Buyers

Written By, NowCar Team

The car buying process can certainly be a tumultuous experience, and it can be made that much more stressful if you're dealing with it for the first time.

  • What do you focus on?
  • What do you say?
  • What should you expect?

If you're one of those first-time buyers, we've got all the information you need.

Whether you're buying from a dealership or an online car buying service, it's always a good idea to understand what you're getting into. To learn more about the entire process, check out our guide after the break…


You're bound to spend a significant amount of money when you purchase a vehicle, and it's never a good idea to shop blindly. This is when big mistakes could be made, and you may find yourself in a financial hole.

All of this could have been avoided if you dedicated an hour each night to researching your next vehicle.

As explains, you'll want to keep three things in mind: your budget, your needs, and whether you want a new or used car.

Establishing a budget is particularly important, as you could face a variety of problems if you fail to pay off your vehicle in a timely manner. Besides the price of the car, you'll also need to account for a variety of other costs, including the titling and registration, insurance coverage, and dealership fees.

Furthermore, it's always a good idea to set some money aside for those unexpected (albeit, expensive) repairs. It may seem like a chore, but figuring out each individual expense will go a long way in determining and effectively utilizing your budget.

A good rule of thumb is establishing a budget for each month, as you'd likely be paying in monthly installments.

You also have to consider your individual needs. Sure, the convertible certainly looks fun and flashy, but is that truly what you need from a vehicle? If you have a long commute, perhaps you should focus in on fuel economies.

If you have the task of driving a large family, you may be seeking a vehicle that offers more passenger room. It's very unlikely that you'll come across a vehicle that provides all of these amenities you desire, so it's a good idea to make a prioritized list.

Finally, you're going to want to establish whether you want to opt for a new vehicle or a used vehicle. There are incentives that accompany both options. New vehicles obviously cost more, but new mechanics means you should avoid costly repairs.

Used cars will cost significantly less, but it's uncertain whether these vehicles can be relied upon.

Once these three focal points have been established, you can start searching for specific brands and models. When all this information has been gathered and analyzed, you should have a (nearly) exact idea of what you're going to target and what you should be paying.

Shop Around

Shopping On Computer

Limiting yourself to an individual dealership is a bad idea. Not only will your options be limited, but when it comes time to make a purchase, you're going to have nothing to compare your one quote too.

It may seem unethical, but it's completely reasonable to visit different dealerships and use their quotes against each other. If one salesperson feels threatened and fears that a sale may not take place, they could be more willing to back off their asking price, or maybe they'll throw in some features free of charge.

Regardless, if you've never negotiated, it's a good idea to be joined by someone who has. That bit of experience haggling over a price can go a long way, and while you may think the dealership's offer sounds reasonable, someone with more experience will likely push you to ask for an even lower price.

You also don't have to limit your options to a dealership. While purchasing a vehicle from a private party certainly has a number of risks, you can still find some excellent deals. Furthermore, online marketplaces eliminate the inconvenience of having to travel to different dealerships, and you can make a purchase from the comfort of your own couch.

Test Drive

Making a car purchase without test driving the vehicle is like getting married without determining whether your significant other snores. It's an essential part of the car buying process, so it's shocking that so many people ignore this step.

First and foremost, you can easily determine whether a car is for you or not by giving it a quick drive. You can prevent buyer's remorse and identify whether the gas pedal is too sensitive, or whether there's not enough leg room to accommodate your height.

If you're discovering these issues after you've made your purchase, then you're certainly in trouble.

This doesn't only apply to new cars. It's also important that you test out a used vehicle prior to making a purchase. You never know when there may be some underlying, sinister issue hiding under the surface, and you can at least takes steps to remedy this fear by giving the vehicle a quick ride around the block.

If you hear the engine struggling, then that's a definite sign for concern.

Have Fun

There's a very good chance that you're going to be relying on this vehicle for some time, so you might as well make the most of the experience. Heading into a dealership with a poor frame of mind could also impact your negotiating skills, as well.

If you remember that there's no pressure to make a purchase, your demeanor will likely change for the better.

It's really not that tough, right? The car buying process is relatively straight forward, and there shouldn't be too much that surprises you. As long as you use the advice that we gave, you should be absolutely ready to make your first purchase.

Regardless of whether you're nervous about dealing with a dealership or not, you should check out Not only can you explore the endless catalog of cars, you can even make a purchase from the comfort of your own couch!