Getting ready to buy your first car? Learn how to make buying your first car as easy as possible.
12 Must-Know Tips for First-Time Car Buyers
As you navigate the car buying process for the first time, keep this checklist handy:
1. Decide what kind of car you want to buy
Your first vehicle might be a car, dustitruck, SUV, van — whatever best fits your lifestyle and need. As you begin the car buying process, think carefully about what type of vehicle will work best.
2. Set your budget for buying your first car
There are two important numbers to keep in mind: how much you can afford for a down payment and how much you can afford to pay monthly if you’re financing a first car purchase.
Doing the math using a car loan calculator can give you an idea of what fits into your budget.
3. Weigh the pros and cons of buying new vs. used
Buying a new car has its perks — low mileage, minimal wear and tear and of course, that new car smell. But a used car can also have its merits when it comes to affordability.
Consider your budget and how long you think you’ll keep the car to decide whether new or used is the way to go.
4. Compare vehicle pricing
Once you’ve decided what type of vehicle you want to get as a first-time car buyer, take time to shop around. You can do this in-person or by checking price quotes from dealerships online.
5. Check safety ratings
While you’re price shopping, take a look at the vehicle’s safety ratings. If you’re buying used and you’ve narrowed your search down to a specific car, consider researching its accident history as well.
6. Check your credit report and scores
If you’re buying a first car, you may not have a lengthy credit history yet. Take a look at your credit reports and credit scores to get an idea of what a lender may see when they pull your credit for a loan application.
7. Get an insurance quote
You’ll need to have car insurance before you can legally hit the road with your first car. Learn what the minimum amount of coverage required is, then get quotes from two to three insurers.
8. Find a lender
Choosing the right lender matters. Ideally, you want to get a loan that offers the best interest rate and payment for your credit profile and budget.
Go online to compare different lenders. Look at the minimum requirements to qualify for a loan, as well as the interest rates each lender charges.
9. Take a test drive
Test driving vehicles is also important when buying your first car. It’s a big investment and you want to be comfortable behind the wheel.
Before you commit to a purchase, schedule a test drive to get a feel for how the car drives.
10. Consider whether you’ll need a cosigner
As a first-time car buyer, having a cosigner could help improve your odds of being approved for a loan. Check to see if the lender allows a cosigner and if adding one to your loan could help you secure a better interest rate.
11. Be ready to negotiate
Negotiating is part of the car buying process and you shouldn’t settle for the first offer the dealer throws at you. If you’ve never negotiated anything before, get some tips from an experienced car buyer on how to wrangle the best price for your first car purchase.
12. Know your rights
Hopefully, buying your first car isn’t a headache. But if you end up purchasing a lemon, you do have some protections through the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan.
Consider getting preapproved for a car loan
Securing a loan preapproval can make buying your first car and negotiating the price less stressful. Preapproval means you’re conditionally approved for a car loan. You can submit a loan preapproval application to Birchwood Credit Solutions and get a decision in as little as 24 hours.