Like every teenager, I wanted badly to have a car of my own. I begged and begged my parents to help me buy one until finally, a few weeks before senior year started they relented and helped me pick a used car. I didn’t have a wide option back then and my requirement was pretty basic; a decent car with good mileage that doesn’t look too worse for wear.
I got an old sedan and rolled into my first day of school feeling fresh with my grin up to my ears. Alicia, as I came to call her, lasted me well into my college days before I had to trade her in for a newer model.
When I finally got lucky enough to buy a brand-new car, I didn’t want to leave it up to chance. I wanted to buy one on my own terms without having to adjust to any constraints. And I wanted this car to last long or even longer than my previous one.
I was a fresh graduate back then with few job options, it’s not like I have the liberty to be rotating cars every few years. With all these in mind, I set out to look for my unicorn, my car soul-mate if you will, and here are a few things that helped me.
How to find the right car
1. Define your Needs
In my quest to look for a new car I asked for several expert opinions. Luckily, I was friends with this mechanic I go to the gym with and he shared some fine points. A car is a workhorse and therefore should be subservient to your needs.
What use is a beautiful-looking car if it is costing you too much money on gas or can’t fit any of your equipment? Are you going to be using it for your work commute, or hauling a lot of your stuff? How much is your gas budget? These are some questions that will help you narrow down your selections.
2. Set a Budget
Any wise shopper, regardless of their financial freedom, will always have a budget when buying big purchases such as a vehicle. Not only will it help you narrow down your choices but a budget will help you avoid falling victim to predatory tactics some car salesman might employ.
When setting the budget, remember to factor in purchases like accessories and add-ons. They can improve the experience of using the car, extend its usefulness, and minimize repairs. Seat covers, for one, can keep your car seats in good condition and are easy to clean (sometimes, spot cleaning will do).
After consulting a few friends and family members, I came to the conclusion that 20% of my monthly salary is all I can afford for monthly car payments. Anything more and I risk going hungry or missing my rent.
3. To Lease or to Buy
Back when I was in the process of buying my second car, it never really crossed my mind to lease one. It was only after I made my purchase that people started asking if I leased or bought my car. Both sides of the argument have pros and cons to it.
Leasing allows you to drive more expensive cars for less money. There is no trade-in hassle when your lease ends and repairs are covered under the warranty. Buying, on the other hand, gives you more flexibility to sell the car anytime you want. You can modify your ride in which way you want, and there is no penalty for exceeding the gas mileage.
4. What about Used?
There is no hard rule that you should only buy a brand-new car. There are perfectly good used cars around with very good performance and mileage and it won’t cost you a pretty penny. If you decide to go with a used one, pay extra attention to its age. Try to get one that’s less than six years old. Remember, the older the car, the more it will need costly repairs.
5. Test it Out
No amount of gawking at a prospective car will really equal sitting behind the wheel and driving it yourself. Never buy a car you haven’t tested and when you do drive it similarly to how you normally drive. This will give you an idea of how it handles on a daily basis, how the features enhance or hinder your driving experience, and how comfortable you are driving it.
Author Bio: Sarah Brooks, a passionate blogger, and frequent traveler enjoy writing about technology, basic automotive hacks to know, and more. She is currently working with Newdawn Towing & Recovery LLC, one of the leading companies that offer the best towing service in Cincinnati.