The First Car Buying–Sage Advice Part 1

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett and A.R. Bunch

Let us talk directly to some of you on those of you late teens for this blog, with the voice of a couple car experts instead of your over-protective parent…which I’m sure have already weighed in.

There comes a point in your life as a teenager where you have “come of age” and require your own mode of transport. Though you may be tempted to look for a sports car, or even something like an SUV these aren’t recommended. Just like your “rents” have been preaching, the best type of car is a simple, late model, mid-size passenger cars. Here’s why…

This is about more than just trying to break away from being ferried around by our parents. It’s bigger and more symbolic than that; it’s a machine which can take you (within reason) wherever YOU want to go. Instead of, stand here at this time and I’ll get you, it’s be home by a certain time. The subtle difference is huge because now you are responsible for everything it takes to hit the mark and all the free time that responsibility creates. Therefore, the fastest way to more freedom with your car is to impress your parents with your car buying decision.

Making a good choice in purchase:

What you might not immediately consider are airbags but if you are learning to drive, they are definitely a good idea. Go for side air-bags as well. You might also look for an anti-lock braking system, just to be on the safe side. When you voluntarily pick a safe car, it signals your parents to worry less about you.

The first car might be one that we stick with quite a few years. After all, how long will it take before we can afford a new one? That being the case you can’t just buy the cheapest car you see, chances are that it will only break down. No, it needs to be relatively inexpensive, but operable.

You can avoid a lot of haggling with pros (car dealerships) by shopping private sales online. To avoid scammers, robbers, and worse kinds of creeps, mention that you’re going to have the car inspected by a mobile service like Tire Kickers. Be ready to pay in cash to make the purchase a simple transaction and bring someone with you who has some life experience. (Aunt Sally the x-marine will do nicely).

Obviously, never digitally hand over a deposit for a car you haven’t seen, just because the guy says he’s had a lot of interest—there’re actually a lot of decent cars out there so don’t worry.

Here are two pieces of advice that will serve you well in life–Don’t show your fear & haggle a little. There seller probable has more experience buying/selling cars that you do, but they don’t know that for sure until you open your mouth. Just nod and agree with what they say, and if the amount’s too high and they won’t haggle, the best thing to do is move on. Always haggle a little, because it actually reduces the remorse after the fact—wondering if you over paid. Just because they’re asking more than the car is worth doesn’t mean they need to come down in price, they might fail to sell it to several more people before coming to that conclusion. Sales fall through for dumb reasons all the time. Don’t let it get you down, just move on to the next car.

You’re probably noticing a theme to this section—don’t fall in love with the car before you buy it. That’s literally the job of a car salesman at a car lot—get you to fall in love with it before you talk money. So think logically about your car until you own it, then fall in love with it.

Is color important to a car? NO! go back and re-read the last paragraph! Holy cow, did you already forget the lesson. If you’re excited about the color you are not buying right. Look at the engine, the interior, the acceleration, the fuel economy, how suitable a car is for your needs. Then you can work out if it is the right color or not. (One exception: you can turn a car down if the color is too awful.)

What your Parents Aren’t Thinking:

Most teens assume that their Mom or Dad is primarily concerned with price. They don’t want you to overpay, but they don’t want you to drive an ancient gas guzzler either. Sometimes you might have to adjust your ambitions. Don’t worry about your parents; it’s probably you who will have to keep up with payments.

I know we just said to pay cash for the car, why are we talking about payments?

There is a way to finance a car and pay cash if you can pull it off. Some of the smartest teens we’ve interviewed were able to make an arrangement with their parents. They worked and saved up most of the down payment for their vehicle purchase. Then they looked around for the general type of vehicle they wanted and went to their parents with an offer. Match the down payment and co-sign a personal loan. This sort of loan isn’t tied to the vehicle. If you stop paying your parents will have to make the payments. Many banks won’t consider an unsecured loan because they want the title to the car as collateral, but with your parent’s signature and a sizable down payment some of them will. This allows you to take the amount of money you need out of the loan to buy the car in cash.

Paying cash gets you the best price on a car, usually, and by owning the title you can potentially reduce the cost of your insurance.

The key here is picking a car that your parents are impressed that you chose and try and keep to any agreed budget.

Good luck in buying your new car and here’s to safe driving out there.

PS if your parents don’t agree to help you buy a car you have only two recourses. 1) find ways to get better grades, a promotion at your job, and act more responsibly. 2) use your down payment money to buy a motorcycle…your parents will change there mind about the car…

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