Buying your first car is a big deal. In fact, a car is likely one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make in your life—often second only to buying a house. Whether you’re 16 or 26, picking out your very first car is a major decision that can be stressful and nerve-wracking. You don’t have to feel too overwhelmed, though. As long as you learn how to make a smart and informed decision about which car to buy, chances are you’ll end up with a Ford Focus, a car you love and that will serve you well for many years.
Stay Within Your Budget
When you’re searching for your first car, it’s easy to get carried away and buy a fancy, flashy model that is outside of your price range. Head to the dealership with a budget in mind to avoid the future stress that comes with spending too much money on a car you can’t really afford.
It’s important to take more into account than the flat price of a car. If you’re relying on a loan to pay off your car, figure out how much money you can afford to spend per month on car payments—make sure to factor in interest, too. Other important factors to take into account are gas expenses and the cost of paying for parts and maintenance, as these vary depending on which car model you choose.
Use All Your Resources
In the modern world, first-time car buyers have access to many more resources than consumers had in the past. You can find a wealth of information online about car models you’re considering. With just a few Google searches from your smartphone or laptop, you can find consumer reviews, detailed specs, etc. about virtually any car on the market. Find out as much as you can about a car before you decide to buy it. Some cars that seem like smart, practical choices are actually faulty and unreliable. Before you even visit a dealership, research car models and find several that seem to fit your needs and your budget. You might even discover an ideal car model that you hadn’t considered before or didn’t even know existed.
Using all of the resources that are available to you can help you narrow your search to make it less overwhelming for you. Going to a dealership for the first time with a few specific models in mind can also help you know which questions to ask and which models to avoid so you don’t make a rash, uninformed purchase that you’ll regret later.
You might think you’ll enjoy your first car more if it’s a flashy sports car that features with a modern, cutting-edge infotainment system and a top-of-the-line interior. However, attractiveness and amenities are not actually the most important determining factors for how satisfied you’ll be with your car.
Consider practical factors like fuel efficiency, mile range, heating and cooling systems depending on the climate where you live, the cost of parts and maintenance, etc. first and foremost. While you should prioritize practicality when choosing your first car, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to what your car looks like and which non- essential amenities it features. Don’t hesitate to hold out for a car that is both practical and fits your preferences in terms of style and special features.
Read the Fine Print
Never buy a car before you carefully read and review all of the paperwork you have to sign to buy it. It’s easy to feel pressured and get overwhelmed at a car dealership, so it’s important to know which red flags to avoid during the negotiation process.
Avoid buying expensive add-ons, as most of these ‘extras’ don’t add much to your driving experience and can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the price of your car. Also, don’t take car salesmen at their word. Always check to make sure any promises they make you regarding warranties, payments, etc. are spelled out in your paperwork before you sign it.
After you finally sign on the dotted line and drive your first car off the dealership lot, let yourself celebrate. Having a car of your own is a big responsibility, but don’t let the stress of car ownership prevent you from enjoying your very first Ford focus. You’re smart and cautious and you chose a safe, reliable model that fits into your budget, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
It’s not frivolous to take a ‘just because’ joy ride in your new car. In fact, practice makes perfect and driving your Focus as much as possible on both city streets and highways after you first buy it can help you adapt to driving it and stay safer on the roads. Hit the road by yourself with a playlist of your favorite songs, or invite a friend or two to celebrate your new major purchase with you.