Adulting can sometimes be hard. And overwhelming. And borderline exhausting. There鈥檚 figuring out how to ace your finals聽and deciding聽what to do with your tax refund聽to deal with, but few things are tougher to navigate than buying your first car. Since you鈥檝e been working hard to save more money, forking over a large chunk of cash is nothing to joke about. To make sure that you get exactly what you want at a fair price, we caught up with Scott Chesrow, car expert at Vroom, the largest online retailer of pre-owned vehicles. Scott gave us seven insider tips for buying a car that鈥檒l make sure you鈥檙e still happy months after getting the keys to your new ride.


1. Do your聽research on value and safety. Before you even walk into a dealership or call a used car owner, you need to do some serious digging. Scott says, 鈥淵ou should consult not only car manufacturer websites, but also independent sources like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Consumer Reports or Kelley Blue Book. They offer a number of research tools that let you compare costs, safety ratings and features, until you find what [car] works best for you.鈥

2. Have a clear idea of your needs and priorities.聽鈥淔or those tackling a two-hour commute each day, it might be best to opt for fuel-efficient vehicles. If you鈥檙e a city dweller and often squeezing into tight parking spots or parallel parking, a rearview camera is key. Defining your 鈥榤ust-haves鈥 will help narrow your focus and save you time when searching for your perfect car,鈥 Scott advises. Hello auto-start, Bluetooth and power steering.

3. Set a budget and stick to it.聽We know, talking dollars isn鈥檛 always the most fun convo, but it鈥檚 crucial to setting yourself up for success. Scott agrees, saying, 鈥淲hen you鈥檙e buying a car, especially for the first time, you want to be very conscious of your budget and what you can realistically afford. You need to consider more than just the sticker price of the car. Your budget must factor in additional costs like gas, car insurance, your state鈥檚 license and registration fees and maintenance.鈥 Those little costs 鈥 plus any unforeseen repairs 鈥 add up quickly, so don鈥檛 be tempted to go too far over your target budget, even if you find the perfect car.

4. Get a good deal on financing. Now that you have your budget set, it鈥檚 time to focus on the other pieces of the financial puzzle. 鈥淩esearch comparable interest rates for people with your credit score. Good and great credit (720+) means you should have a very good rate, somewhere in the 2-4 percent range. The biggest thing about financing is that usually dealers are packing the interest rate with their profit. So if they present you with a 5 percent rate, good chances are the bank will actually finance you for 3-4 percent, and they鈥檙e profiting on the rest.鈥 So there should be some wiggle room for negotiation.


5. Check the vehicle history report. If you鈥檙e buying a used car, not brand new, make sure you get a full history of the vehicle. Scotts says, 鈥淎t Vroom we won鈥檛 sell any car that has ever been in an accident. Always ask for a CARFAX report, an AutoCheck report, as well as the car鈥檚 title history. Many used car dealers don鈥檛 have high quality standards and might not tell you about issues in the car鈥檚 history that will need to be addressed with costly repairs down the line.鈥

6. Read the fine print. It鈥檚 easy to get caught up in the test drives and chrome wheels, but there鈥檚 lots of info in the details that you need to know. Scott advises, 鈥淧ay attention to what kinds of protection they鈥檙e trying to sell you, and actually read the fine-print. Some warranties may not be necessary or a very good deal. Tire protection is particularly notorious for only covering very specific and rare types of damage.鈥

7. Ask about聽the return policy. Returns? On cars? Yep. It鈥檚 a thing. Scott explains that 鈥淪ometimes it takes more than a short test drive to figure out if the car actually works for your lifestyle. For example, at Vroom we have a seven-day return policy, no questions asked. This is your first car, and probably your first big financial investment, so it鈥檚 important that you are 100 percent satisfied with your vehicle.鈥

Tweet us about your first car-buying experience聽@BritandCo!

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