What to Expect When Buying Your First Ever Vehicle
STEP 1: FIGURE OUT YOUR PRIORITIES
For your first vehicle, if you go into your purchase experience expecting to find the perfect car, you’re likely to be surprised in one manner or the next. That’s typical. Sitting behind the wheel is much different than sitting in the passenger seat, so until you have enough experience driving a few different vehicles, you won’t always be able to predict just what features you prefer most in a vehicle. (And like with love, sometimes you don’t appreciate the good things you have until you’re on to the next one.)
Chances are you’ll have plenty of sources to steer you in a sensible first direction, but you’ll also need to consider this question: What will you be using your vehicle for the most, 80% of the time or more? What kind of transmission would you prefer? What matters most to you? Are you looking for something that looks fast and exciting? Something fuel efficient and reasonably priced? Something big that can be carry lots of cargo? Something with a special feature or two, like a sunroof or heated seating?
Make a list of about five or six key elements that you are hoping for, even if they don’t seem compatible at first. Chances are that your most important considerations will be included in this list. Now pair them off in every combination, bracket style, and pick which element is most important to you, if you could choose only one. When you’re done this quick process, you’re ready to move on to Step 2.
STEP 2: NARROW DOWN YOUR SEARCH
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what’s important to you in a vehicle, it’s time to start looking for the ride that best embodies these qualities, and at a price you can afford. Start to browse through the new or pre-owned online inventory of your local dealership. Here at Wood Wheaton GM, we list all of our models online, along with plenty of details and specs describing exactly what you’ll get with each selection.
Many people are drawn to purchase a used vehicle through private sale for their first vehicle, especially younger drivers who’ve just gotten their license. That works for some people, but for not much more money, there are plenty of clear benefits that you have access to by purchasing from a dealership:
- Fully inspected vehicles with full disclosure
- CarProof vehicle history reports
- Exchange guarantees in case you change your mind during the first month
- Parts & Service access
- Special savings for students & recent graduates
- Available extended warranty and parts coverage
- Available roadside assistance
The next few months following the purchase of your first car is a time of rapid learning, which is why many shoppers prefer to buy a new car, foregoing the inevitable parts replacement period and service catch-ups for further down the road.
STEP 3: COMING TO THE DEALERSHIP
You’ve discovered some of your priorities, figured out your budget, and have found a few vehicles that seem like the best match for the two. Now it’s time to head on down to the dealership.
Step into the showroom and you’ll be greeted right away by one of the sales associates, who will sit down with you and ask you a bit more about what you’re looking for in a vehicle. Many first time buyers are intimidated about this part of the process, thinking that it means you’ll be locking horns in a tense negotiation over pricing. That’s not how it works anymore. In fact, it’s to your benefit to mention to your sales help that you are purchasing your first vehicle. That way they can take the time to better explain some dealer concepts or principles that may otherwise be familiar to you. Remember, you’re here in part to learn, and your sales associates would be glad to help with this.
If there is something currently in stock that meets the majority of your search criteria, your sales associate will escort you out for a test drive in the vehicle(s) of your choice.
STEP 4: TAKING THE TEST DRIVE
Test drives are zero-obligation opportunities for you to pilot any vehicle for sale in the dealership’s inventory and take it out onto the road. One thing you realize within moments, is that no matter how certain you feel you are about a vehicle before taking your test drive, all that can change in an instant when you’re behind the wheel.
During a test drive, things you’ve never spent much time considering previously can immediately become front of mind. Is the seating comfortable and appropriate for your body size? How are the sightlines from the front seat? Do you like the level of responsiveness of the brakes, the turning radius of the vehicle, of the handling from the steering wheel? No matter how well an advertiser can attempt to describe the details and specs of a vehicle, there will always be plenty of those little intangible elements that are difficult to articulate, but so easy to sense, and important.
After your test drive, which is typically a ten or fifteen minute drive around the dealership area, you should have a pretty good sense if this is the vehicle for you. If you’re not in love and 100% convinced with your first test drive, then feel free to test drive another vehicle; this way you’ll have a point of reference for your comparison. Soon enough, you’ll have figured out the right car for you.
Remember, this is just the first vehicle in what is likely to be a lifetime with many others to come.
You can book a test drive at Wood Wheaton online anytime to get the process started.
STEP 5: SIGNING THE DEAL
You found the car, it drives well, and you’re ready to buy before some other shopper comes in and swoops up the great set of wheels you’ve discovered. Now it’s time to sign the deal.
Purchases of this size are made in writing, with both parties outlining and validating their promises to one another in contract form. The dealership promises to provide you with ownership or leasing power of a specific vehicle, for a specific amount of time, along with any other conditions agreed upon between both parties, such as special, one-time deals or additional work that will be needed to be completed; in turn, you will promise to pay the dealership a certain amount of money, deliverable at specific intervals.
These deals include a payment plan, whether you are financing, leasing, or purchasing it outright, something that will be different for every buyer and depends mostly on your credit standing, current promotions, and any additional warranty coverage or insurance you may wish to purchase. Also make sure to read the fine print of the contract, and have both you and your sales associate initial any changes you might have to make to the document.
Congratulations! You’ve just signed the deal for your first car!
STEP 6: INSPECTING YOUR VEHICLE
You’re almost there! Depending on the vehicle you purchased, you might need to wait a bit before you can drive it home. (This is more typical for new car purchases, where the specific add-on options, colours, and trims need to be built and ordered in for you, or when certain repairs agreed upon in the sales contract need to be done for a pre-owned vehicle.)
You will be asked to do a final inspection of your vehicle and sign off on the inspection document before you assume ownership. The details of the inspection often differ but generally include searching for any defects or problems with the vehicle appearance, taking inventory of all the spare pieces included with the vehicle (spare tire and jack, owner’s manual, floor mats, remote starter fob, etc.), and testing out the controls of the media features.
Don’t worry if you feel that you’ll forget something. Your sales representative is there to help you through the process, and will be more than willing to provide exceptional service in case you forget something after the fact. (Remember, they’re hoping that you’ll return for your next vehicle, too.)
STEP 7: TAKE DELIVERY
Once you’ve signed the acceptance form, grabbed the keys, and are confident with your purchase, the car is yours! Congratulations!
Now you’ve purchased your first ever vehicle. Relax, enjoy the next few months, and get ready for many more lessons to come in what will hopefully be a long and lovely lifetime behind the wheel.
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