Top Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

I hope you will enjoy reading this guest blog from James Henderson, a DIY guy and car enthusiast. He helps readers understand car problems you can fix and what to leave for the pros like us!

Buying a car can be difficult for a lot of buyers, especially for those buying a car for the first time. Should you get a Hyundai or Kia? Chevy or Ford? There are so many car models for sale that it can be overwhelming to choose just one. Start by conducting a lot of research to determine which type of car you are looking for before you head to the dealership. This way, you won’t be pressured into a Mustang Boss 302 impulse buy when what you really need is a gas-sipping commuter like the Ford Focus. We’ve put together a checklist that can help you as you pick out your first car.

Check Reviews

Check out industry reviews on the vehicles that interest you. Reviews from individual consumers are great, but can be poorly written and biased. Look for professional reviews to get the low-down on the pros and cons on any vehicle, including any recalls or other issues. You don’t want to get stuck with a vehicle that will cause you nothing but headaches.

Looking for reviews on trucks like the Chevy Silverado? Check out a site like TruckTrend.com. Look for budget-friendly cars like the Kia Sportage http://www.automotive.com/kia/sportage/t3-13-3/ at Automotive.com. MotorTrend.com is another good resource and has reviews of many different kinds of vehicles.

Cost of Ownership

First, look at the cost of owning different types of cars. A Land Rover LR4 is going to have a different cost of ownership from a Volvo XC90. While the purchase price may be different, there are a lot of other costs associated with car ownership. You’ll have expenses such as insurance and registration to begin with, and these will be recurring expenses. And look at the fuel costs http://fueleconomy.gov/ for the cars you are looking to purchase. This is a huge aspect of owning a car. No one wants to have a car they can’t afford fuel for.

Next, check out the cost of maintenance, such as tires and oil. Some cars, especially sports cars and limited edition cars, come with hard-to-find tire sizes that will increase your costs when it comes time to replace them. Other cars can use special oil weights or other additives that are more expensive than your typical oil change.

Determine Your Needs

Then determine what you need from a car. Do you need a commuter car that gets high gas mileage like the Toyota Prius? Maybe the fuel economy is not as important to you as the power. Or you might need a lot of cargo space of a Ford F-150 to haul your work equipment (or even your toys for weekend excursions). If you make a lot of road trips, you’ll want a car that is not only comfortable, but has an entertainment system that is compatible with your toys, such as your iPod/iPad/iPhone or DVD player. Make a list of your “must haves” http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/used-cars/buying-advice/index.htm. Then make a list of things that you’d like to have but aren’t mandatory. Then you can search for vehicles that meet these needs.

Don’t forget hidden issues with buying a car. Some cars can only be serviced at certain dealerships, and replacement parts may be difficult to find, or very expensive for these models. Make sure you research maintenance and repair issues before you choose a car.

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