Maybe you’ve been handed down cars since you were old enough to drive. Or, maybe you’ve just never had to purchase one on your own. But, there comes a point in everyone’s life where purchasing a vehicle becomes a necessity. 

Unfortunately, it can feel overwhelming if you’ve never done it before and you don’t know what to look for. It’s tempting to make an offer on the first shiny set of wheels you see. But, learning as much as you can about the car-buying experience and the vehicle(s) you’re interested in can make a big difference. 

With that in mind, let’s look at three tips you should use when you’re buying a car for the first time. 

1. Be Clear With What You Need

It’s important that you’re honest with yourself and with a dealership (or private party) about your specific vehicle needs. 

First, how will you be driving it? Is it simply a vessel to get to and from work each day? Will you be traveling a lot? Do you need something that’s equipped for bad weather or do you live in a warmer climate where snow isn’t a factor? 

You’ll also need to consider your budget. Buying a used car can be easier on your wallet, but unless you know how to extend the life of your car on your own, you might want to look for something newer that’s less likely to need work in the future. 

The clearer you are about your needs, the easier it will be to decide what kind of vehicles you should and shouldn’t be looking at, which can narrow down the buying process quickly. 

2. Get Covered

Make sure you know your credit score before buying a car, as it can have a big impact on your budget and what you can afford. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you have car insurance in place. If you need additional coverage for a used car or if you think you might have to frequently repair the vehicle, click here for extended vehicle protection. 

3. Take It For a Test Drive

If you’re interested in a specific vehicle, one of the best ways to decide if it’s right for you is to actually drive it yourself. Almost all dealerships allow, and even encourage, potential buyers to take cars out on the road for a drive. Some even allow you to keep it overnight if you’re interested, so you can get a sense of how it would fit into your daily routine. 

While driving a car can give you a sense of whether it’s right or not, it’s also a good idea to bring someone along with you who might know more about cars. That can be especially helpful when you’re looking at a used vehicle. They can tell you how it sounds while it’s running, and alert you to any possible issues they notice before you make the deal. 

Buying a car doesn’t have to be overwhelming or scary. Make sure you have a full understanding of what you need and want in a vehicle, and the process can be easier than you might think.