Shopping for a car can be both exciting and daunting — especially if you’re never done it before. If you’re considering a first-time purchase, these tips will equip you with the information you need to find and finance the vehicle of your dreams.
First, evaluate your lifestyle and driving needs. For example, if you have a family, an SUV is a great option. Alternatively, if you do a lot of city driving, a compact sedan might be a more economical and efficient option that’s still spacious enough for a small family. Research the best vehicles on the market and be sure to consider various trim levels and features.
Most people should spend no more than 20 percent of their monthly income on transportation, including car payments. However, you’ll also need to set aside money for maintenance, fuel, and insurance, as well as the one-time down payment. Though down payments can vary, it’s recommended you spend 10 to 20 percent of the sticker price. Budget before you shop to find out which cars are in your price range..
Before you start shopping, figure out your credit score and explore financing options. A higher credit score generally means you can obtain more favorable financing terms. You can see your credit score for free through Credit Karma and annualcreditreport.com. The score is determined by whether you pay your bills on time, how much debt you have, the length of your credit history, and the types of credit you have, among other things. If your score is low, consider consulting a financial planner.
Once you find the type of car that’s right for you, set a budget, and learn about your credit, you’re ready to get behind the wheel. Before you buy a car, though, take a test drive. If you’re considering more than one car, try to test each one the same day so it’s easier to make comparisons. And when you’re ready to buy, bring all the necessary materials, such as your driver’s license, the title of the car you want to trade in (if applicable), and insurance information.
At our Motor Inn Auto Group locations across Iowa, we’ll gladly walk you through the process of buying your first car so you can be sure to drive away in the vehicle that best fits your wants, needs, and financial situation.