You finally have your driver’s license, and now the day has come to buy your first car. As a teenager, however, you’re probably not in a position to walk into the dealership and drive out with a brand-new car.
Odds are, you’re working with a relatively small budget, which means you could be looking at a used car. Buying a used car is a notoriously tricky experience, especially for someone without a lot of experience — and nobody can afford to be ripped off. Consider the following tips before you write someone that big check and drive away in your first car.
For example, it’s important to remember that there are costs involved in buying a used car beyond the sticker price, including generally higher interest rates, insurance and maintenance. You also need to be aware of the vehicle’s history, including any accident reports and the previous owner’s history of maintaining the car. It’s a good idea to take a look under the hood, even if you don’t know much about auto repair, because some signs of wear are obvious.
When it comes to making a deal, you need to research and know the fair market value of the car you want to buy. Take the time to figure out how things like the car’s mileage and overall condition factor into the value of the car, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the owner if you feel like he or she is asking for more than you think the car is worth.
Above all else, remember to let your brain — not your heart — guide your decisions. This will most likely be the most important purchase of your life up to this point, so it is in your best interest to keep your emotions in check.