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First-Time Car Buyers Guide:
Tips & Tricks for Choosing the Right Car

If this is your first time buying a car, you want to ensure you have the right tools and information to make a smart choice. Here at Budget Car & Truck Sales, we not only want to save you money, but we also want to make your first-time car purchase fun and leave you feeling like you made a well-informed and wise purchase. To help in this regard, we have compiled a list of tips for first-time car buyers.

Make an informed car buying decision by keeping the following First-Time Car Buyers Tips in mind!

  1. Determine your budget
  2. Decide how you will pay for your car
  3. Compile a list of features you need and want in a car
  4. Research car models that fit your needs and budget
  5. Narrow down your search to a few models to explore further
  6. Research and compare car prices
  7. Read reviews of each model you are considering
  8. Test drive the vehicles that made your final list

1. Determine Your Budget

Are you planning to pay cash or finance or lease your car? Either way, you will need to determine how much you are willing and able to spend on your first car. Also, keep in mind car ownership costs like insurance, fuel and maintenance when considering your budget. If you are shopping on a tight budget, consider shopping cars under $10K here at Budget Car & Truck Sales.


2. Decide How You Will Pay for Your Car

Unless you are paying cash for your first car, you will need to seek financing or lease it. If you are financing your car purchase, then determine what you can provide as a down payment when you apply for an auto loan. If you are seeking a car loan and you have less than perfect credit, the finance staff at Budget Car & Truck Sales are here to assist you.

Check out our Credit Application here: Credit Application


3. Compile a List of Features You Need and Want in a Car

What type of driving do you plan on doing? What is the climate like where you live? Do you need all-wheel drive (AWD) for added traction or will front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD) suit you just fine? Do you plan on transporting passengers and cargo frequently? These are all smart questions to ask yourself. Selecting a vehicle that is fairly practical, versatile and fuel-efficient is always a smart choice, especially if it is your first time buying a car.


4. Research Car Models That Fit Your Needs and Budget

Now that you have figured out what your first car may look like and how you will pay for it, next comes the fun part: car shopping! Depending on the type of vehicle and your budget, you may still have a lot of cars, SUVs or pickup trucks to choose from, so start researching the offerings from various automakers that are similar to one another, whether that be a compact car, mid-size SUV or full-size truck.


5. Narrow Down Your Search to a Few Models to Explore Further

Comparing many different vehicle models can be overwhelming; that is why it is important to narrow down your options to a few models as soon as you can. Then, compare the remaining vehicles to one another more rigorously to determine which may be the best fit for your needs, lifestyle and budget. Consider aspects like trim levels and features when you compare two different car models or two vehicles of the same model to one another. A base model of one vehicle may vary greatly when compared to a fully-loaded version of another model -- or even the same model!


6. Research and Compare Car Prices

Similar cars of the same model year and mileage may have significantly different prices based on a variety of factors, including the cost of ownership, perceived quality or dependability and the overall demand for the model as new or used. Of course, location and dealership can also lead to price differences -- even for near-identical cars -- so be sure to research and compare car prices from one dealership to another. Here at Budget Car & Truck Sales, we always offer highly competitive pricing on our used cars for sale!


7. Read Reviews of Each Model You Are Considering

As part of your research before any test drives, consider what both automotive publications and owners say about the cars, SUVs or pickups that you are considering. A detailed review of each car or a comparison article including multiple cars you are shopping can be immensely helpful in your car search. Owner reviews can also tell you plenty about what drivers like and don't like about their cars, which can be invaluable in further narrowing down your car search options.


8. Test Drive the Vehicles That Made Your Final List

A test drive can be even more informative in your first-time car buying decision than merely researching vehicles online. A car that looks good on paper or in a spreadsheet comparison may in fact not drive as well or be as comfortable as another car model you are considering. The test drive is the all-important factor in any car buying decision, whether it is your first purchase or you have a lot car-buying experience. A proper test drive not only includes the actual driving portion, but also exploring the interior, cargo space and controls of the vehicle.


Now you're ready to head over to the dealership! This comprehensive list will leave you prepared to take on the challenges that come with making your first car purchase, and help you virtually eliminate the chances of the cliche "buyer's remorse" that can come from an impulsive and poorly thought out visit to a dealership. If you need help with making a plan for yourself, or just want to be totally confident in the integrity of those you do business with for such an important milestone, stop by any of our Budget Car & Truck Sales locations, which can be found in Columbus, GA, as well as in Prattville and Montgomery, AL. Click below to view our full inventory of quality used cars or, for the super savvy buyers, our used vehicle specials!

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