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7 Steps to Buying Your First Car

Written by CB Community

Buying your first car is an exciting time. Dreams of road trips with friends, late night food runs, and the freedom to travel when you want suddenly become reality.

But it’s a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Follow these 7 steps to buying your first car and you’ll ensure that you’re getting a set of wheels that’s a perfect fit:

1. Set Yourself a Budget

The first sensible step to complete when you’re buying your first car (and in your general life as well) is to set yourself a budget.

Buying a car is a big financial commitment and figuring out how much you can afford for your first car will pay off in a big way.

At this stage you’ll also want to decide whether you’ll buy your car outright or make use of a car loan.

With a loan you’ll be able to take home your car immediately but end up paying more in fees and interest in the long run.

Whatever you decide, by the end of it you should have a rough idea of how much you’re willing to pay and a savings plan sorted out.

2. Consider the Cost of Owning a Car

The budgeting isn’t done after you’ve purchased your car; you also need to take into the account the costs of owning a car.

That means figuring out how much you’ll pay for fuel, maintenance, registration and any regular toll roads you’ll be taking.

You’ll also need to consider the cost of car insurance as well. Shop around and speak to companies such as NRMA, Geico and Desjardins for the best rates.

And, if you’re planning on reselling your car down the road, don’t forget that cars depreciate very quickly – new cars more so than used.

3. Decide Between a New or Used Car

Figuring out whether you want a new or used car is a key step for buying your first car.

New cars are obviously more expensive, but come with a warranty, are fuel efficient, and sometimes even include a year or two worth of maintenance.

Used cars, on the other hand, are far more affordable, but might not include a warranty and can be less reliable.  

4. Know the Difference Between What You Want and Need

It’s important to figure out what you really need in a car and what isn’t essential but would be nice to have. If you’re in a band and need to truck around a drum kit, you need enough space in the boot to do so.

And while cruise control sounds nice, you might decide it’s not a deal breaker if a car doesn’t have it.

If you take the time to think about your lifestyle and how you’ll be using your car, you’ll be well equipped to make a better decision when it comes to handing over your money.

5. Figure Out Where to Buy it From

There are several different places to buy a car. You can trawl through online listings of private sellers, go to an auction, or just head straight to a car dealership.

If you’re going through a private seller, it’s very important to check for a proof of ownership, registration papers, and a roadworthy certificate.

You should also check on the Personal Property Securities Register of Australia (PPSR) website to see if the used vehicle has any outstanding debt. 

6. Take a Test Drive

How it feels to drive a new vehicle plays a big role in figuring out whether you should buy it or not.

It also helps you more properly get a feel for the kind of condition the car may be in and gives you a chance to test out how well it handles and responds on the road.

Take it out for a long drive and put it through all the stops

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate a Little Bit

When it comes to the price point, never be afraid to negotiate a little bit. A lot of first car buyers will end up paying full price without even knowing that they could have negotiated a better price.

It’s common to try and wrangle the price down a little bit. And if they don’t budge, don’t be afraid to shop around either.

In the end there will be other cars, and it’s all part of the experience.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.