Purchasing your first car can be an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful if you have no idea where to start. After all, you don’t want to invest your time and money to find a new vehicle, only to discover you are not happy with your choice, or worse, have ended up with a lemon. So what steps can you take to make purchasing your first car an enjoyable and successful experience?


Establish your budget

Whether you are buying a cheaper car outright or financing a new one, you need to know how much you can realistically afford before you start picking out possible options. Set a firm budget before going to a dealer or other seller, as you don’t want someone talking you into a car that you cannot afford.


Figure out what your needs are

Do you need a commuting car with great mileage? Something big and roomy? How much will you be driving? How many people do you want to be able to fit into the car? Do you plan on moving large items all of the time, making something like a pick-up a good choice? Or do you want a compact option. You need to figure out what your top four or five needs are before you start picking out options.


Do some research

Once you’ve decided on your budget and needs, it is time to go online and start doing some research. This is the stage of the process where your wants come into play. If you find several cars that are in your budget range and also meet your needs, you can decide on some features you may want more than others. Read reviews of cars you are interested in. Are they generally reliable? You can use many websites to help you with your research.


Test drive some options

If online research hasn’t narrowed you down to one or two options, go to a local dealer and take a few of your picks for a test drive. This should help you narrow down your picks even further.


Figure out the actual value of the car you want

Whether you are buying new or used, you need to know the actual value of the car you want before you ever start to haggle with the salesperson or owner. There are many online resources that can help with this, such as the Kelley Blue Book site.


Look into financing options

Once you’ve found the car you want and you know what it should cost, you can look into financing options. If you are younger and this is your first car, you may be getting help from your parents, but it is still a great idea to learn about the financing process and how to check your credit etc. If you are financing this car yourself, you should check a few different options before settling on one, since you may be able to secure a lower interest rate.


Get the car inspected

If you’re buying a used car from either a private seller or a dealer, you can easily end up with a lemon. To avoid this, get a good mechanic to look at the vehicle before you purchase it. A little extra money and effort upfront can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

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