About to be a first-time car owner?


About to be a first-time car owner? Here are some tips.

Whether you’re an automotive fan, or you don’t know the basics of changing a tire—learn everything that beginner car owners need to know here.

Ask any older adult about their first car—it is guaranteed they will remember the make and model. Getting a first car is a milestone in life for many people! Considering that cars aren’t cheap, it’s important to be wise about your choices and the care you put into your car so it will last as long as possible.


Research, research, research

Before you buy a car, you should consider what kind of car you’re looking for to fit your needs.

For example, you could ask yourself:

  • What is my budget?
  • What is the maximum number of miles on the car that I would be okay with?
  • Which car insurance is best for me?
  • What size car would work best for my lifestyle?
  • How much wear and tear do I expect to get from the car?
  • Which features am I looking for?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can use car finding tools like Kelly Blue Book to narrow down the search results.

It’s important to research car brands to see how they rate in safety, reliability and quality. There are some brands that are known for their long-lasting cars and rate high on most reliability tests.

However, no matter what company makes it, if you’re buying a used car, you should always get an independent vehicle inspection and also check the history of it, to see if previous owners got in a crash and what repairs have been made to the car. The history of a car can tell you a lot about the condition of it and if there will be major problems with the car in the near future, which can be very expensive to fix!


The process of buying a car

Now, here comes the most exciting part- actually buying a car!

If you are visiting a dealer, it’s smart to be aware that not every car salesman has your best intentions in mind, and some may encourage you to buy a certain car to increase their own profit. Take it for a solo test drive to clear your head and think about what YOU want if you feel overwhelmed by a salesperson.

If buying from a private seller, remember to ask why they’re selling the car and for proof of a title.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price, especially if your research shows that similar cars have been sold for less than what the dealer or private owner is asking from you.

Be sure that you feel very confident about your choice before buying a car. It’s definitely worth it to shop around if you’re not convinced a certain car is the right one for your needs.


Keeping your car—and you!—safe.

You should keep up with your car’s maintenance to avoid a more expensive repair down the road. Below is a list of maintenance items to keep your car healthy and safe.

Monthly: Verify that your headlights, taillights, and turn signals are operating. If one is burnt out, you may get a ticket. Check your tire pressure, tread depth, and braking system to ensure your safety while driving. You can find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure in the owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s side door. Most gas stations offer free air for your tires to correct the pressure.

Every three months: Motor oil can be changed according to the mileage recommendation in your owner’s manual, or you could consult with a professional to determine your car’s need. Monitor your car’s air filter according to what it says in the owner’s manual.

Every six months: Tire rotations are necessary to extend the life on worn tires. Battery performance checks should also be done to ensure that your car starts consistently. Shocks and struts can be inspected by an expert and replaced every 50,000 miles. In the winter, check your antifreeze levels to make sure that any important parts in your car stay unfrozen. Depending on the climate where you will be driving, you should make sure that your tire tread depth is good enough for the winter.

Yearly: Check the spark plugs/ignition system, as it is what helps your vehicle to run efficiently. Also, check your transmission fluid and fuel filter according to recommendations in your owner’s manual. A professional should check your front and rear differential.

As needed: Refill windshield fluid and replace your windshield wipers depending on usage. In the winter, it is important to regularly wash your car to remove salt and other chemicals, which could cause rust.

For an itemized list of things that need to be inspected on a car and when, click here. For more information on why each maintenance piece needs to be done, click here.

What do I do if my car breaks down?

Imagine that you are about to head home after a long day at work. You unlock your car and climb inside, and realize that you left your interior lights on. When you start the ignition, nothing happens. This inconvenience is common but fairly easy to solve with a little preparation.

No matter how well you keep up with your car’s maintenance, the chance that you may get stuck somewhere with a flat tire, dead battery, or some other issue is always present. In the middle of winter, getting stuck somewhere and not being able to turn your car’s heating on is definitely a challenge you don’t want to encounter. Make sure that you always have a kit with essential items such as non-perishable food or a blanket, safety materials such as a seatbelt cutter, window breakers, jumper cables and a tire repair kit, including a replacement tire. To prevent getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, we suggest making a plan for what to do in a situation like this. Learning how to change a flat tire is an essential skill to have, and knowing how to jump-start a car battery could save you from calling a tow truck.

Sometimes, your own knowledge is not enough. In a case where you cannot fix your own car, you should utilize a roadside assistance service or call a towing company. There are many different routes you can go through to get roadside assistance, and it normally costs around $10-20 per year. If you would rather go straight to a towing company, use this resource to find towing companies near you


A new car can fuel your sense of independence

For new car owners, this may seem like a lot of information—but a car could be one of the most important purchases of your young adult life. Choosing the perfect one for both your budget and your needs is a difficult task. If you do not purchase the right car for you, it could feel like a waste of money, whereas the right car could be worth the hefty price tag.

Cars may be costly, but they will help you to feel some independence as you drive yourself to work, school, the grocery store, or wherever you may go. Financing your own car can make you feel just as independent as driving it. Even though there are a lot of maintenance tasks to remember, it is important to monitor the safety and condition of your car to sustain its value.

Much like driving a car, it is sometimes difficult to navigate important purchases. We hope that you are able to use these tips to cruise into your future with the car of your dreams.

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