*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by autoTRADER.ca*
I can still remember my first car. It was a white Jeep Cherokee with slightly worn leather seats, a couple small rust spots, a butt warmer for winter and automatic windows (which were cool at the time). I was one of the last of my friends to take the plunge into car ownership, but it was such a proud day when it finally happened. I had spent months pouring through vehicle ads in various editions of the AutoTrader magazine and when I saw that glorious beast of a vehicle, I knew it had to be mine!
Unfortunately for me, the only thing I got right in that process was that I used AutoTrader to find some options. The truth is that I didn’t know anything about the vehicle purchasing process and because of that, I missed some key things that had me regretting the purchase less than a year into it. Luckily for you, not only have I learned a few lessons along the way, but now I go right to autoTRADER.ca’s News and Features section, which is an incredibly valuable resource as you begin your journey with vehicle ownership! That being said, here are some tips for first time car buyers to help make that very exciting purchase a great experience!
1. Set a Budget. A Realistic One!
I can’t state enough how important it is to know what your realistic budget is going into this process. I spent way too much money on my first car for several reasons but the big one was that I didn’t set a budget in advance and just bought the first cool thing I liked. Also, when thinking of your budget, keep in mind that there are other expenses such as gas, insurance and vehicle maintenance that can add up quickly.
2. Do Your Research!
As stated above, don’t just buy the first shiny thing you see, even if it falls within your budget. In fact, autoTRADER.ca offers the largest inventory of new and used cars in Canada, available online and through the autoTRADER.ca mobile app, so there’s no reason not to at least look up a few different options even if you are set on a specific brand of vehicle. You can search based on vehicle model, make, colour and geographic location to find the deal that is right for you. Speaking from experience, if you are too shy to negotiate a better price with a seller, try to bring someone with car buying experience with you to help out. Remember, you are the car buyer and you have nothing to lose by walking away and looking for a better deal elsewhere.
3. New vs. Used Car
This might be the toughest decision you are going to make when buying your first car. The benefits of buying new include predictable monthly payments with a traditionally lower interest rate than used, repairs covered under warranty (with roadside assistance usually included), the latest technology, added safety features, higher fuel efficiency, and not to mention that new car smell… The downside of course is the higher cost. New cars often come with a new-car price tag, and quicker depreciation.
With a used car, there’s more variety because you’re not just dealing with the newest models and used usually leads to bigger savings. Some benefits of buying used include the fact that it’s easier on your wallet as you get most of the car’s life and most of the warranty for a fraction of the new car price and you can avoid new car fees. There’s also more choice among age, make, model and trim and insurance rates tend to be lower. The downside of course is that the vehicle is slightly older depending on which route you go and generally requires more maintenance/repairs, etc.
A couple notes here before we move on. You can buy a bottle of “new car smell” nowadays, so if you want a used car that smells new, it’s only $6.99 more! You really can’t go wrong here as long as you stick to the previous points of budget and research. Think about what your needs are and that will help you find something that checks all the boxes. By using Canada’s number one automotive marketplace in autoTRADER.ca, I guarantee you will find something that you will love, whether it be new or used.
4. Leasing vs. Financing
This is another big one when it comes to purchasing your first vehicle. Both options have their pros and cons and it’s important to weigh factors such as vehicle usage and monthly budget when making your decision. Here are just a few points to help you make the best decision for you.
Pros: Monthly payments can be flexible, influenced by interest rates, payment terms and the length of time chosen to pay off the cost of the vehicle. The cost of the vehicle is spread over a period of time and at the end, the vehicle is owned outright. As someone shuttling around a busy family of 4 plus friends, financing was really the only option for us as we put a LOT of miles (and dirt/dents) on our van.
Cons: The fact that the vehicle will be paid off in full by the end of the borrowing term means that financing payments may be higher than leasing rates. It is possible that a vehicle could depreciate faster than it is paid off, meaning the value could be less than is owed.
Pros: Leasing can be an attractive solution due to the accessible payments and vehicle warranty, which allow for predictable monthly budgeting. Leasing is appealing for people who like to trade in for a new vehicle every few years, enjoying the latest designs and technology updates. This is an especially appealing option if you are simply driving to work and back, with no heavy wear and tear on the vehicle.
Cons: Leasing is essentially a long-term rental unless you choose to buy out the vehicle at the end of the lease. You are therefore responsible for excessive mileage and any damage that may occur.
Hopefully this was a good starting point for you if you are in the market for your first vehicle. I can’t stress enough how wonderful of a resource autoTRADER.ca is, with innovative tools like autoTRADER.ca I.Q. and the autoTRADER.ca mobile app, there is quite literally all the information you will ever need and more when it comes to buying your first car.