Students car

Published on October 31st, 2017 | by Jones

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Tips for buying your first car

Buying your first car can be exciting, but there’s a lot to manage. Planning ahead can help make the process easier—and help ensure you end up with the best car for you. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you start shopping for your first car.

Establish a realistic budget

This figure is generally based on what you can afford per month. The ideal is to pay cash and not get into debt, but unless daddy’s credit card is paying for it, this isn’t usually an option. So, when considering a new (or just newer) car, the nature of prices of cars in South Africa means it’s likely you’ll need to leverage some level of financing.So, look at your cost of living in all the more important areas, like shelter, food, medical aid and those all important Happy Hours. Once those are calculated, the remainder could be spent on a car payment, fuel, car insurance and — for cars without a warranty — mechanical maintenance. (Pro tip: A car is not an investment. It’s simply a key that unlocks independence. And that key is expensive to maintain.)

Be honest about what you need

We’ve all been there: Where we hear the throaty roar of a Jaguar E-type long before we see it. And every student dreams of driving a Jag or Ferrari. The reality is always going to be a little different. Evaluate your lifestyle and the driving conditions you face most often. Take an honest look at your finances too. Carefully assessing your situation is a great step toward finding your first car. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll find that perfect used VW for sale at a local dealer. A car that’ll fit your lifestyle and your wallet.

Do your research

There is, at this point, an amazing amount of both information and perspective on new cars and their late-model alternatives. Once you’ve digested it all, balance it with your gut instincts — or those instincts of someone whose gut you trust. And be proactive; if you see someone with a car you have an interest in — and they’re not doing 120 on the highway — stop them and ask about their ownership experience. Are they happy with their vehicle? What’s the fuel consumption like? What kind of conditions does it drive best in? What does it cost to maintain? These sorts of questions go a long way to establishing whether it’s worthwhile buying.

Locate a convenient dealer

Since the beginning of car-selling history, the act of buying a car for the first time is akin to getting your first colonoscopy: uncomfortable at best. But despite their bad rap, car salespeople are actually quite normal and just want to do their job. While new and late-model cars have never been more reliable, they still need attention and that attention should be easy to access — don’t be fooled with excuses or white lies about how the paper work’s been lost. If your instincts feel something is amiss, then move off and find a different dealer. Alternatively, there is a plethora of online sources from which you can buy a vehicle, which leads us to our next tip.

Make sure to actually drive the vehicle

With all of the online sources available for your basic research, we believe the importance of the test drive has been marginalised. Virtually nothing is more important in your decision process than how you feel behind the wheel. And so many variables come into play — seat height, wheel adjustment, steering feel, the looseness of the clutch, outward visibility, dashboard layout among other things — that you simply must spend a reasonable amount of time driving the car. And that time should be more than five minutes on someone’s idea of a stop-and-go test route. Take at least half an hour, while trying stop-and-go, highway merging and highway speeds. And if your sales rep — you know, the normal person trying to make a living — doesn’t have the 30 minutes, find a time when they do, or take the time to find another dealership.

Close the deal

You’ve done your research, you know what you want, you have your financing in place and you’ve driven the car. It’s time to negotiate the deal and you’re in control. Before you sign though, be sure you understand the terms of any financing or warranty agreement. Take the time to read the fine print. It’s often that dealerships don’t make profit on the car, they make it on all the add-ons.

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