7 Useful Tips for Buying Your First Car


Buying a car is a big purchase. Especially when you’re buying either your first car or a car for your teen driver. In most of these cases, you are looking for a car that is reliable, fairly new so it is sure to last, and one that is listed at a fair price. Simply trying to stick within your budget is hard enough, let alone when you are trying to find other aspects in a vehicle.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just need to go into the process equipped with the right tools. The car buying process is lengthy and detailed, and one easily feels overwhelmed; especially when it is their first time making such a large purchase. But, you don’t have to go at it alone! We’re here to help.

Below are 7 useful tips that everyone –whether you are buying your very first car or looking for something for your teen driver – should consider when buying a first car. We bring you a step by step guide on everything from creating your budget to inspections and negotiation.

  1. Create a Budget

First things first. Before you even set foot on a lot or begin searching for various cars online, you need to know exactly how much cash you have for the vehicle. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people go into purchasing a car without much thought as to how much they really have to spend.

It’s easy to become swept up in the idea of driving a fancy car, but if that slick car you have your eye on will put you in a bind each month—then, you, friend, can’t afford it. You need to create (and stick!) to a realistic budget.

There are two easy ways to determine your budget. In these situations, it’s unlikely you will have a trade-in. However, a down payment of 20 percent or more will help lower the costs of your monthly car payment. So, first take a look at your finances, and then figure out the amount of your down payment.


Next, you need to figure out how much you can afford to spend on your monthly car payment. Take a look at the expenses you bring home each month. Subtract all your bills and other costs.

The car payment will come from the remaining number. Please be smart, here. You don’t want the car payment to take up the entirety of that number, or you could get yourself in trouble. Make sure you leave a comfortable amount for emergencies and other activities.  An auto loan or affordability calculator is an easy way to quickly see what you can afford each month.

  1. Know Your Financing Plan Ahead of Time

Avoid making the rookie mistake of walking into a dealership without your financing plan formed. Ideally, by the time you shop for a vehicle, you should already be pre-approved. Shop around and compare interest rates of various lenders. Everyone’s situation is different and your lender choice should be appropriate for your financial situation.  

  1. Shop Around

Be sure to view vehicles online and visit multiple different dealerships. It’s important you not only shop around to get a full view of your different choices, but to also compare prices.

Oh, and while it’s good to have an idea or two of the type of car(s) you’d like, if they don’t work expand your options. You might have your heart set on one vehicle only to be disappointed when you see it in person. Keep an open mind and remain reasonable.

If you want a car to last throughout the years, don’t buy a used car with 100,000 miles on it. Likewise, if you are a commuter purchasing a car, a gas-guzzler isn’t the best idea.


  1. Always Test Drive

A vehicle may seem perfect on paper. Perhaps it has all the features you’re looking for. Maybe it’s also in your price range. Let’s say you finally make it to the dealership and you like it even better in person. Anyone would be ecstatic; however, even in these lucky situations, you should always take it for a spin. It will help you visualize yourself in the vehicle.

  1. Get the Vehicle Inspected

Those planning to buy a brand new car will be protected by a warranty. However, for those looking at used cars, you want to ensure that everything under the hood is functioning properly.  The last thing you want is to purchase a car that turns into a money pit.


Take the car to a trusted mechanic for an inspection. This will give you a better idea of just how reliable the vehicle is. No one wants to spend their time in and out of the repair shop after purchasing a car that had damage or faulty parts.

  1. Keep Safety in Mind

Safety is always important – for any driver. If starting a family is in your near future, not only is a two-seat sports car unreasonable, but it won’t come with the safety features you need. Also, a sports car is hardly the safest option for your teen driver. Be sure that the car you choose is reliable and safe.


  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

Lastly, don’t be afraid to negotiate. This is part of the car buying process that makes many people nervous. However, you have a budget to stick to. Plus, most salesmen focus on the monthly payment price rather than the total costs of the car.

Be sure you stand firm in how much you are willing to spend. Also, be aware that they will likely push little extras that quickly add up. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make a counter offer. Many times, if a salesperson fears they might lose the sale, they will work with you.

Hopefully, with the help of the above 7 tips, you will feel confident in all areas of your car buying process. When you make an educated decision, you walk away with a vehicle that is safe, within your budget, and able to go the distance.

To ensure that the vehicle you purchase remains running in the best condition, drop by one of our 26 locations throughout the central and south Florida area. From oil changes and brake repairs, to inspections and tire repairs, Action Gator Tire has you and your family covered!