Few experiences can match the sense of freedom that comes with buying your first car. But even a seasoned driver knows that the shopping and buying process can be daunting. We’re here to help any prospective new car owners out there. Check out these tips and keep them in mind before walking into a dealership.
Don’t Break the Bank
Be realistic about what you can afford. General rule of thumb: have enough cash on hand to cover a 20 percent down payment and aim to have the vehicle completely paid off in four years. Always make your monthly payments on time; it’s an excellent way to establish your credit history. And when budgeting for your first car, don’t forget to include additional costs, like routine maintenance and insurance premiums.
New or Used?
If you can’t reasonably afford a brand-new car, consider buying a used one. But remember that secondhand vehicles sometimes come with an extra set of baggage, thanks to careless previous owners or unscrupulous dealers. If you go this route, do your due diligence. Inspect and test-drive the car yourself, but also get it inspected on a lift by a mechanic that you hire, not the dealer. If possible, speak directly to the previous owner (or owners) and ask about prior accidents and mechanical problems, or obtain a vehicle history report at carfax.com. You can also use the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or the National Insurance Crime Bureau websites to find out more about the car’s possible damage history.
Wheel and Deal
Whether you decide to buy a new or used car, do some research and comparison shopping before making your choice. The GEICO Car Buying Service powered by TrueCar is a great place to start. This new online guide is designed to save you time and money. Use it to find exactly the car you want (new or used) at the price you want to pay. (Plus, every reported purchase from a TrueCar Certified Dealer comes with extra benefits including Auto Deductible Reimbursement.) Alternatively, get out there and visit more than one dealership yourself, and don’t forget to kick a few tires. Also try to get your financing and loan approvals lined up through a bank or credit union beforehand. That way you can enter into negotiations from a position of security, and you won’t be tempted to take the car salesperson’s first financing offer. Hold out for the best deal you can get. And if you’re asked to get credit insurance as well, remember that it’s optional. By federal law, you’re not required to buy credit insurance. But if you choose to get it, the cost of the insurance must be reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) that you negotiate with the dealer.
If your parents or guardians are loyal GEICO policyholders, you may qualify for special savings to start your own auto insurance policy, thanks to the new GEICO Family Pricing Program. When you’re ready to get auto insurance for yourself, just give us a call, provide the policy number that you’re currently covered under and one of our agents will give you a free quote. The GEICO Family Pricing Program also applies to nieces, nephews and grandchildren, as long as they’re named as an additional driver on an existing GEICO auto policy and are now responsible for purchasing insurance in their own name. To see if you qualify, call us at 1-800-555-2760.