Nine Things NOT to Do When You Get Your First Car

Many people are nervous when they are buying their first car. For most people, it’s the largest purchase they have made yet in their lives, so it is a big step. If you are getting ready to purchase your first vehicle, make sure you get expert help with the different steps. Consider bringing a trusted friend or family member who has experience with you as you shop, test drive, and inspect potential vehicles. These are some of the things you want to make sure you don’t do when you are buying your first car.

Use Your Dealer’s Financing

If you use your dealer’s financing without shopping around, you might not get the best rate. Make sure you visit several different lenders and dealers to find the one that has the best options and loans for your particular situation. Your dealer is also going to try and sell you a car warranty. Whether or not this is a good idea can depend on a lot of factors, but make sure you evaluate what warranty is best for you before you make a purchase. As well as evaluating your dealership’s warranty, also consider the advantages of a third-party company, such as a Carshield auto warranty.

Skip the Test Drive

When you are buying your first car, you might not know what to do on a test drive. However, skipping the test drive completely is a mistake. Many people don’t fully take advantage of the test drive time. Before you start car shopping, it’s a good idea to develop a list of different things you want to look for and test while you have the car. Bring along a trusted person who can help you look for problems, evaluate different features, and think about the car from all angles.

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Buying the First Car You See

Don’t fall in love with any car until you are ready to buy. You want to go through the shopping process with an open mind, especially once you get to the stage of test drives and inspections. At this point, many people start mentally picturing the car as “theirs”. This can cloud their judgment and make them willing to overlook problems in order to convince themselves to buy.

Skip the Mechanic Inspection

Make sure you get an independent inspection for any vehicle you are considering purchasing. Not only does this give you a chance to check for any problems, it gives you time to get expert advice from a trusted mechanic on this particular model of vehicle. You should ask if they see this kind of car often, what problems they are known to have, and what kind of maintenance needs they have.

Focus on Monthly Payments

Don’t focus solely on the monthly payments when you are shopping for a car or a loan. Monthly payments are important, and you should consider them, but you also need to consider the entire cost of the car and the loan. You also need to consider the length of the loan and whether the car will depreciate faster than you can pay it off. No one wants to be stuck with a loan that is more expensive than their vehicle is worth.

Don’t Negotiate

New buyers can be reluctant to haggle over prices, but dealerships expect you to negotiate. Failing to ask for the price you want or other perks, like detailing, new tires, or additional features can put you at a disadvantage. While it can feel rude to negotiate prices, don’t skip this. If you will feel more confident with a friend, bring someone who’s experienced at buying cars, an expert negotiator, or who isn’t shy about voicing their opinion.

Don’t Shop Around

Don’t settle on a vehicle until you have shopped around and visited several dealerships. When you are shopping, you aren’t just looking for the best car that is perfect for you, you are also searching for the best dealership and lender. Spend some time visiting several dealerships, looking at their lots, talking to their salespeople, and getting a feel for the kind of business they are. Don’t neglect to listen to your gut as you talk to the salespeople and wander the lot- if something feels off, move on to the next dealership.

Ignore the Maintenance History

You need to know how well your new car was maintained by its previous owners. If there is no proof of regular maintenance, like receipts from mechanic shops or a maintenance log, you have no way of knowing how the car was treated. Performing regular maintenance is a big part of extending a car’s life, so don’t skip this step.

Skim the Paperwork

If you skim over the paperwork without reading it carefully, you risk missing important information. You need to know what the loan terms say before you sign anything, and you won’t know unless you read them. Don’t trust the salesman or other people at the dealership to know and accurately tell you what is in your paperwork. While they shouldn’t intentionally mislead you, it does happen. They can also make mistakes, give you the wrong paperwork, or forget to make agreed-upon changes. Always read your documents thoroughly before you sign anything.


While you are car shopping, keep in mind that you are making a large purchase and it’s important to know that the vehicle will fit your needs, is running well, and that you will be able to enjoy it for a long time. Take all the time you need to evaluate, ask questions, and think about this big step. Don’t be shy about asking for additional test drives or inspections, and don’t let the salespeople pressure you into a speedy purchase.  You will have peace of mind if you enter into this purchase feeling like you did everything you could to make a wise, careful choice.

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