Sladen West: guest contributor

Whether you’re purchasing a vehicle to get to your very first job or need a car for graduate school, buying a car for the first time is an exciting venture. From knowing when to shop to how your credit score affects your purchase, keeping some tips in mind will help to expedite this task.

Practice Your Payments

Regardless of whether you’re planning to purchase a brand new vehicle or a slightly older model, you need to ensure that you’re able to afford the payments. Using an auto loan calculator will help you to determine what your payments might be each month. For at least a couple of months before you buy the car, practice setting that amount of money aside. If you are able to do it without sacrificing other bills, then you’ll know that you can purchase a vehicle for that amount of money.

To Co-Sign or Not

When you’re young or just starting out in a field, having a co-signer on the car loan is tempting. If your credit won’t allow you to qualify without one, then you don’t have too much of a choice. Even if you don’t need a co-signer, having one can help to alleviate some of the financial burden if the other party is paying for it. Also, you could qualify for a car of a higher quality that will get you where you need to go safely and securely. On the other hand, having a co-signer means that you are financially tied to the other individual for the life of the lease or finance.

Dealers Near You

Chances are, you already know that you can surf the web to find the best prices on cars. However, you also want to take the location of the dealership into consideration. Choosing a dealership that has the lowest price might seem like the best idea, but you could miss out on other offers if it’s 50 miles away. Some dealerships offer service packages or free services that are available only if you return to the dealership from which you purchased the car.

Avoid Heavy-Handed Negotiations

When you’re preparing to buy a car, you’re probably also brushing up on your negotiation skills. Still, you need to remember that the car dealership is a business, and it does not need to acquiesce to your every demand. When you go into negotiations, be reasonable with your offers. You might be able to have extras added onto your package, but getting the price cut in half or even into two-thirds might not be possible. Look at the lowest price the car is selling for online, and do not expect to pay much less than that.

Don’t Fear Test Drives

Many people are afraid to test drive cars when they go to the lot for the first time. They might have anxiety about damaging the vehicle or feel awkward driving a car that isn’t theirs. This drive is a normal part of the process, and the salespeople are used to it. You also need to get a feel for the car before you decide to purchase it, and a test drive is the best way to accomplish that. Furthermore, you can see if anything needs to be adjusted in the vehicle or if you have any questions about it should you decide to purchase that car.

Don’t Feel Alone

Buying a car for the first time can be an overwhelming process, and you should take someone with you who has been in that position before. This person can help guide you through negotiations and to decide if the vehicle is worth the cost; however, this individual will also assist you in wading through the various options and deciding if you should buy now or later.

Never feel pressured into buying a vehicle. When the time is right, you will know, and you’ll be able to drive away in the car for which you always hoped.