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Useful Tips for a First-Time Car Buyer

First-Time Car Buyer? Here Are Some Useful Tips

Buying your first car can certainly be a confusing and stressful experience; but it doesn’t have to be. Below you’ll find some useful tips to help ease you into buying your first car!

Tips for Getting Ready to go to The Dealership

Establish a Budget

Budgeting is a useful skill in most aspects of life. Starting by figuring out your transportation budget is as important as any other necessary budget you’ll be setting. This figure is based on what you can afford to pay per month, less your other immediate expenses. Ideally, we’d all like to pay cash for a brand new car and avoid any type of interest payments, but in most cases, when considering a new or even a used car, the nature of the transaction price is often based on the leverage of financing . As a first-time car buyer, you’ll have to consider your hierarchy of needs, beginning with physiological needs such as shelter, food, and health insurance. Once you’ve calculated those areas, the remainder of your budget could be spent on a car payment, fuel, and—lest we forget—car insurance. You won’t be able to hit the road in your new wheels without Car Insurance!

Be Honest About Your Needs

Whether you’re a single household or a family of five, being honest with yourself about your needs is pivotal when it comes to buying your first new or used car. If you’re a single household working in finance, odds are you don’t need a diesel pick-up for your morning commute. Conversely, if you’re a parent of three, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the latest cabriolet with only two rear passenger seats. Given the cost of fuel, car insurance, and—in most major metropolitan areas—monthly parking; don’t buy what you don’t need or can’t afford.

Know What Type of Car You Want

Even though we suggested focusing primarily on your needs and not wants, considering the type of car you want to drive every day is still an important factor in the process. There’s no greater pitfall than buyer’s remorse, especially when it comes to something as integral and costly as your first car.

Get Your Finances in Order

One thing every car dealer will look at is your credit score. If that is something you’re concerned about, we at Cactus Auto are experts at working with less than perfect credit! While a higher credit score makes it easier to get approved for an auto loan, an alternative route you can take, especially if your credit isn’t great, is supplying proof of income. If you want to talk over some of your options before you even begin looking at cars, feel free to Contact Us —we’ve been serving residents from Tucson and the surrounding communities in Arizona for over 30 years, so rest assured you’re in good hands.

Buy ItBeforeYou Need It

This piece of advice is critically important—don’t wait until your back is against the wall to buy a car because, in a nation that covers nearly 3.8 million square miles, you’re going to need a car at some point in your adult life. Poor decisions are often made in the heat of the moment, so you want to make sure you’re taking the time to consider and weigh all of your options before making a decision.

At The Dealership Tips

Inspect the Car, Inside and Out

Inspect both the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Look over the exterior of the vehicle, checking for scratches, dents, and rust. You don’t really need to worry about small dings or minor scratches, but larger damaged areas may be a cause for concern. We also always recommend checking to verify that the vehicle’s body panels line up correctly, as uneven panels may indicate that the vehicle was in an accident and not repaired properly. It’s also a good idea to open and close the doors, hood, and trunk of the car to see how easily, or uneasily, they move.

Inspect the inside of the car by sitting in all the seats, working the seat levers, and looking for unusual wear in the upholstery. If you smell something musty, check the carpet and floor mats for signs of a leak or water damage.

Take It for a Spin

Going for a test drive can help determine whether or not the vehicle is a good fit for you and can also give you insights into the car’s condition. You should always turn the Keys to the “Accessory” position, which should illuminate all the dashboard warning lights. If they don’t turn on and illuminate or stay lit when you turn the key in the ignition, make sure the issue is inspected.

When you start the engine, make sure you’re listening for tapping or clicking sounds, which could indicate an issue with the engine. While you’re test driving the car, keep your eyes and ears open. You may even want to consider driving the car on different types of roads and at varying speeds to verify that the transmission is shifting smoothly. Make sure to note any strange engine or brake sounds, and keep track of whether or not all of the electronics in the car are working properly.

First-Time Car Buying Financing

Even if you get a great deal from a dealership on a used car, buying a vehicle is still a big investment. That’s why our team at Cactus Auto works hard to connect our buyers with the best used car loans in Tucson. We normally advise against taking on any loan where the car payment would be more than 10% of your income (after taxes). One of the great things about buying a used car is that it helps your budget stretch further. The maximum loan size may also depend on your credit score. It’s generally a good idea to apply for your auto loan before you buy a car, that way, you can walk into any dealership and know what you can or can not spend. Still, you can discuss financing after you agree on a sale price if you want. A member of our team will work with you to make the process as smooth as possible for you.

Close the deal – Time to Purchase

Once you’ve decided what you want, have kicked the tires on it, and have established a general sense of what you can afford, it’s time to arrive at a purchase price. There are various online sources that you can research that will give you an accurate idea of what people have paid in your area for the car you’re interested in purchasing. A credit union can also provide you with perspective and may even have a contact person that they’ve worked with in the past on the showroom floor. Lastly, when it comes time to negotiate what you’re willing to pay, you don’t want to show your entire hand and tell them the amount you can afford. If you’re thinking that you’ll be able to budget $15K, and you’re looking at a car that’s valued at $20K, start with telling the salesman you can afford $15K—you can always work your way up to the actual number once they counter.

Why Buy a Used Vehicle

Now, the big question is, why would you buy a used car over a new car? There are several reasons that make Used Cars a much better value for your money. For starters, Used Cars typically cost 50% less than a brand new car off the dealership showroom, and the majority of the vehicle’s depreciation has already occurred—meaning if you buy a Used Vehicle today, the rate at which its value decreases is a fraction of that for a brand new vehicle. This is particularly important when considering you’re a first-time car buyer, and on average, consumers switch cars at an average of six years after the initial purchase .

Also, Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles have been thoroughly inspected, refurbished, and certified by the manufacturer (or other certification authority), which assures the vehicle is as advertised. Used cars also do not require Gap Insurance—which is a premium that covers the difference between what you paid for your new vehicle and what its depreciation value is after you pulled it off the lot—which will save you a ton of money each month on your insurance premium, considering the depreciation value is much lower for a Used Car.

Contact Us to Discuss Options With Your Local Experts

As long as you follow the basics when you start looking: knowing what you can spend, knowing the car you want, lining up your finances and looking into financial options, thoroughly inspecting the car you want, and of course, try to enjoy the process! You only get to buy your first car once, so you might as well make it memorable for all the right reasons. We’re here if you need any help at all, no matter where in the process you currently are; our team will do whatever they can to get you on the road in your new car.

At Cactus Auto , we’re experts in finding the best auto financing Tucson has to offer. People come to our location on Prince Road from all over Arizona because we have the best pricing, free maintenance with every sale, and have a variety of car financing available. See if you qualify by applying for credit today.

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