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PERSONAL FINANCE

5 Keys to Getting Your First Car

By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com Producer

CBN.comPrice tags scare me almost as much as the fact that I’ll be paying for the same car for the next four or five years. So far in my life, I’ve relied on the generosity of my parents to provide good cars for me to use.

Now, it’s my turn. I’m in the market to buy my first car – paid for totally out of my bank account. It’s scary, let me tell you. However, I’ve found a few keys along the way that have helped. They’ll help you hone your buying sense too.

Keys to Buying a Great Car

1. Research

Start online. Go to www.consumerreports.org and other independent car review and info sites to see how vehicles you’re interested in measure up. These Web sites will provide facts and figures that will help you find out which cars are safer, the most fuel efficient, and reliable.

Be sure to visit blogs and message boards too. Google the make and model to see what consumers are saying about it. I’ve found these to be helpful because people aren’t afraid to give honest opinions – good or bad – about their car.

Ask around. This is a little piece of advice my father gave me. When you’re out on the road, notice the cars around you. If you see a certain type of car broken down on the side of the road a lot, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that they aren’t necessarily reliable. Also, don’t be afraid to ask someone in a parking lot what they like and don’t like about their car. Get your friends and acquaintances opinions too.

Note: Overall, the most reliable cars out there are Toyotas and Hondas. Review Web sites, mechanics, and buyers say so.

2. Be Smart

Go for a pre-owned vehicle. The second you buy a brand new car it decreases in value. I’ve found great used cars with little miles on them for much lower prices. When you go for a used car, be sure to check out the warranty on it. You may need to cash in on that later.

Compare your picks. Based on the information you gather from your research, begin to hone your choices down. Weed through the phases of likes and dislikes to really find out what you want in a car. A few weeks ago, I entertained thoughts about getting a convertible. Then, it was a 4-wheel drive, heavy duty SUV to drive on the sand dunes at the beach. Now, I’m not so sure I want that either. Stick to your instincts. Get a dependable one that you like.

Get your finances in order. Set aside a couple thou in your bank account to put toward a new car. You mustn’t forget that on top of the sticker price you have to fork over money for car insurance, taxes, and fees on your new car. Start saving funds now to put down on the car and to cover these extra expenses.

3. Drive it

Get behind the wheel. Take your choice vehicle for a test drive. Most dealers will let you take any you show interest in for a spin. Have your license on hand. They’ll need it before letting you drive their car. When you’re on the road, test the car’s acceleration and braking. If you can, take it on a highway for at least a few minutes to see how it handles.

Test its roominess. Jump into the back seat to check out the space your passengers will be asked to squeeze into. Take time and sit in every seat to see if they’re comfortable for one thing, but also to test the head and leg room available. Some SUVs claim they can seat more than they really can accommodate. Small coupes and some sedans don’t seem to allow your backseat passengers much room either. Pop the trunk too while you’re looking around to check out the storage space a particular model offers.

4. Don’t settle

Be patient. Unless you need a car fast, don’t buy into the first one you find. If there’s anything you don’t like about the car, do not sign the papers. Wait for the right one for you.

You’ll eventually find one that’s the color you were looking for with not too many miles on it. At the same time, remember to be flexible. It may turn out that you like something totally different than what you originally were searching for.

5. Check it out

Take it to a trusted mechanic. Some garages will inspect the car for you to make sure it’s in good shape and the price the dealer is asking is fair. Mechanics usually charge a fee for this service. But, it’s worth it if you find a car you’ve considered buying.

Some dealerships may be reluctant to allow you to take the car to get this done. They’ll argue that they’ve already examined it. Don’t budge an inch on this though. Simply walk away. It’s better to really know what you’re buying than just to take their word for it and end up paying for it later.

Be a good steward by keeping God in the process the whole way through. Pray about this big decision. He’ll give you wisdom and help you make the right pick.


Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn serves as a writer/producer for LivingTheLife.com and CBN.com. For more articles and info about Hannah, visit her bio page.

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