Buying your first car means finally getting your first big taste of freedom. It means you are independent and in charge of where your life takes you. It also means taking responsibility for buying gas, paying for insurance, and financing the second largest purchase of your life (the first being a house). While there are a ton of little pieces that go into the puzzle of buying a car, we’ll help you find the edge pieces and let you fill in the rest!
- Start with a Practical Overall Budget
How much does it cost to live the way you want to? Take into account rent, bills, and hobbies – it all adds up. Areas around the country have different costs of living, so it works in your favor to be thorough in making your personal budget and not simply take the national average. When you know how much you have altogether it makes it easier to figure out the next step, how much do you have each month to spend on a vehicle?
- Map out Your Monthly Budget for Your Car
After you know your whole budget, you can see what you have left to spend on a monthly payment for your vehicle. Don’t forget to factor in the gas money and insurance costs. There are plenty of tools to help you find out how much you can afford. When it comes time to pick a car, our team will help you find one that fits your price range and driving style, which brings us to the next piece of the puzzle.
- Decide Your Realistic Driving Needs
Do you have a long commute? Does it snow often? Do you do any hauling? Think about how you’ll put the vehicle to use to help you decide what body style, powertrain, and features you might need on the road. While it might be tempting to go home with a tiny convertible, if you deal with snow for five months of the year, winter driving is going to be a chilly and slow process for you. Likewise, if you opt for the fully-loaded truck but have a long commute, say goodbye to extra spending money because it’s all going in your gas tank. Make a list of how you’re going to use your car with the intention of sniffing out any obstacles your car might need to overcome.
- Assess Your Must-Have Features
You should be pragmatic about safety tech and drivability of your car, but that doesn’t mean your vehicle should be solely utilitarian. If you need a sunroof, a Bose® audio system, a heated leather steering wheel or whatever else – get it! You’ll be driving this car for a few years, so it’s worth your time to make sure you love it. This might mean you end up paying a bit more for your vehicle so make sure you weigh the pros and cons; you don’t want to resent those extra frills when you’d rather have the money for other things.
- Research! Research! Research!
With the advent of the internet, it has never been easier to investigate vehicles and get a feel for them before you ever touch them. Read user reviews, safety articles, take note on when the model year turns over in case deals are on the horizon. Make a list of a few different models you’d like to try and bring it with you to the dealership. Getting to know the market before you decide on a car can mean more money in your pocket and a better vehicle in your driveway.
- Talk with the Dealership
Choosing the right dealership means you’ll have a team working with you to help you find your dream car. And don’t be afraid to lean on them and tell them exactly what you want; at Garber, we relentlessly hunt for the right car for you and never press you into a vehicle that isn’t exactly what you want. To us, it’s all about options at a price you love. Contact a team member when you’re ready to get started!
- Take it for a Spin
You made it to the fun part! After you’ve found your price range, the best dealership, and the target model you want to drive, then you finally get to take a seat behind the wheel! The most important piece of the puzzle is what you feel when driving this car. How does it handle? Do you feel comfortable? Do you like the visibility? Spend enough time getting to know that vehicle on a route similar to your daily commute. Take at least 20 minutes driving it around in a variety of different settings – in the city, on the highway, and out in the country if needed. Again, if it’s not exactly what you want, try the next one on your list or talk to your Garber Team Member to have them find you a more thrilling model.
- Shop Around for the Best Financing
The Garber team has exclusive working relationships with both local and national banks and know how to make sure you get the best deal. Whether your credit is excellent, challenged or somewhere in-between, Garber has a financing program just for you. Apply online and allow us to do the work for you, making the institutions compete to get you the best rate possible on your new car.
- Make the Process a Joyride
While it might seem like there are countless pieces to the puzzle, the result will be a masterpiece. Don’t get bogged down on decisions early on, instead, peruse the automotive landscape at your own pace to find creative and exciting options. Never settle for anything less than exactly what you want at a price that fits your budget. Your first car will be one you remember forever so make it a memory you cherish.
If you’re looking for some of our most affordable cars, here are some fantastic options under $20,000. We also have some spectacular specials going on right now, that you might want to check out. If you want to talk to someone about your options more in-depth, our team is standing by to help you in any way we can.