When you’ve passed your test and you’re ready to buy a car, the main thing on your mind is likely to be pure excitement. There’s an obvious reason to be happy, however buying and owning a car isn’t exactly trivial. There are many factors to buying a car that’s right for you, and afterwards there are all kinds of maintenance factors to worry about. I know you’re probably raring to get on the road, but certain things need to be considered if you want the best experience out of your car. Here’s a guide to buying your vehicle in the first place, and everything that follows.
First of all, buying the thing. The auto industry is large and constantly changing. This means that no matter where you are, there’s going to be a great deal on a car for you. While it’s definitely within your reach, finding the best deal isn’t exactly easy! There are some important things to understand about car buying. Your preparation should start long before you go to any showrooms.
You’ve probably got a few models on your radar already. You should start the buying process by looking up some of the invoice prices of these cars. The invoice price is what the manufacturer sells the car to the dealership for. They then sell it for a price somewhere around the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). This will usually spell out thousands in profit for the dealer. Unless you have your heart set on a state-of-the-art model, you should be able to get your car at a figure closer to the invoice price. When you have the invoice prices to hand, you’ll be able to steer clear of any extortionate deals. Car Buying Strategies has a more complete guide on this.
After you’ve collected this info, your next step is the manufacturers’ websites. This is so you can check for any rebates you might qualify for. This is another way of stepping around the dealer’s selling tactics. Instead of laying all of this out on the table, they’ll keep one or two and bump up their profit margins. Make sure you look into any rebates which could knock some money off of the overall price. You may belong to some kinds of organisation or coupon scheme which will give you further rebates.
Do some preparatory research into the dealers you’re considering, too. I know I’m giving car dealerships a bad rap, but this isn’t without good reason! Finding a fair, cooperative dealer in your area can be a lot harder than you’d expect. However, once you have them, you’ll be able to avoid an unfair price and all kinds of haggling-induced headaches. There are a lot of sites where you can find impartial reviews of different dealerships. However, there won’t be too many for one dealership, and the ones you do find can be vague and unhelpful. Failing an online recommendation, try simply asking people you know. I’m sure you can name at least one friend or family member with a car! Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find dealership recommendations. Ideally, go for someone who has owned several cars and has lived in your local area for a long time.
A keen understanding of your credit history can also be a big help when you’re buying a car. Odds are, you’re going to need a loan to be able to afford your car. The precise cost of that loan all hinges on your credit history. If you have poor credit, then there are going to be a lot of options which are closed off from you. Seen as this is your first car, you’re probably not going to have much of a credit history to go on. Still, it’s always worth looking into. There could be damaging mistakes on it which you need to have corrected.
Finally, choose the right time to purchase your car. The silver-tongued archetype of the car salesman didn’t come out of nowhere. Dealers have sales quotas to meet, which run on a monthly basis. For this reason, many dealers are happy to offer a reduced price towards the end of a month. If you’re not too picky about the car you get, then you may even want to wait until the end of the model year. December is when dealerships are running on low inventories, and need to shift any leftovers for the new model year. If practical, wait until this part of the year, and give yourself a lovely Christmas present!
Next, we move onto caring for your car. Your new car might look absolutely perfect right now. However, without the proper care and attention, the condition can break down faster than any of us would like. You probably have all kinds of material about routine maintenance. Obviously, for any serious repair work, you should be going to a professional centre like Milestone Liberty. However, there are a few routine procedures you can do yourself with relative ease.
First of all, there’s changing your air filter. When you see how easy this is, you’ll be amazed at the amount of people who pay to have it done! This is the part of your car responsible for filtering grit and debris from the A/C. Generally, it’s recommended you change it once every year, or every 12,000 miles. First of all, find the filter. It looks like a rectangular black box with metal clips on its sides. On most cars, you’ll be able to see it as soon as you lift the hood. If not, look through your owner’s manual. Once you’ve found it, open the casing and take out the filter. Make a note of the way it goes in. Then, insert the new filter just as the old one sat, and close the metal clips.
Changing wiper blades is another thing which a lot of people waste money on. When you’ve done this yourself, you’ll be utterly amazed that auto parts stores charge for it! These should be changed at least once a year. However, if you live in a particularly hot or dusty area, this might be needed more frequently. The construction of wiper blades varies from model to model. However, figuring it out by sight is as easy as changing the air filter. Lift the blades as you would to wipe down the windshield. Then, detach the blades from their metal arms, remembering how they go on. Most cars will have a tab you need to push or pull on to detach the blade. As you attach the new blades, be careful not to bend the arms or scratch the windshield.
Now onto changing your oil and oil filter. It used to be recommended that you change your oil once every 3,000 miles. However, modern cars are much more efficient, and the quality of oil has also gone up. If your model is from the past few years, then you can probably get away with leaving it to once every 5,000 miles. The milestone can vary, but the procedure for changing oil can’t. As a safety precaution, never change your oil when your car is hot. Park somewhere in the shade (like your garage) and give the vehicle some time to cool before you start. In fact, driving before this can be a big help, as it heats and loosens the oil. Next, jack up your car, get under it and find the car’s oil pan. Unscrew the drain plug, drain all the oil into the pan, and then replace the plug. After lubricating the gasket, fill your fresh oil filter about ¾ of the way with oil. Screw it back into place carefully, and by hand. It might be an idea to use a wrench for the last few threads. Next, use a funnel to fill your engine with the new oil. Use a dip-stick to double-check the level is correct. When it’s all done, discard your old oil filter in a regular landfill bin. Recycle your old oil. Most petrol stations will run a service which helps you with this.
Experiencing how easy some of these DIY maintenance tasks are can save you a lot of money in the future. It will also give you a better understanding of the vehicle you’re handling. There are other jobs, such as flushing the radiator and changing the brake pads which you’re probably also capable of. However, if you’re unsure of anything, take it to a professional, or look for a more detailed guide. I’m sure you don’t want to cause a load of damage to your car in its first year!
Buying a car and making sure you get a good deal can be complicated. Afterwards, maintaining that car over the years takes a lot of diligence. However, approach both of these tasks in the right way, and you’ll have the driving experience you always hoped for. Owning a car is one big learning curve, and sometimes throwing yourself in at the deep end is the best start!