In some ways, buying a car is like having a baby - you can prepare, but you don't really know exactly what you're doing until you're experiencing it. Here are some of the realities that hit first time car buyers:
Money talk can be tricky. When it comes to buying your first car, many people are intimidated by the process of negotiating and finding the best price. Do your research beforehand of prices on similar makes and models and understand what a fair value is for the car you're going to look at. It's also a good idea to come prepared knowing about variances in the car pricing according to features available in the car, which can be a valuable place to negotiate.
Going to the DMV isn't fun. Another gritty reality of buying a car is getting to visit your local DMV office to get your registration in order. Check your local DMV website before you go to ensure you've brought any necessary paperwork, identification or forms you need (and bring a good book to read while you're waiting).
Congratulations - You're a Mechanic! Being a new car owner often means rolling up your sleeves and learning how to do some basic maintenance on your own. When you first get your new car, take some time to flip through the manual and learn the ins and outs of the car. It's a good idea to get acquainted with everything from pre-setting your radio stations to understanding where your windshield wiper switch is for your first rainy drive. Every model is different and knowing how yours operates will help you out in the long run. It's also a good idea to learn a few car maintenance basics to help keep your ride in good condition.
Organized Paperwork Isn't Optional. Soon after your new car purchase, you might find that you need the title, insurance info, registration or other pieces of paperwork for your car. Keep these important documents organized and in a safe place you'll need them in the future for inspections, registration, and other requirements.
Your Car Needs A Home. Owning a car means having a place to park it too. If you don't have a designated driveway or garage, you'll have to check with your local town ordinances to determine if you need to register for street parking permits.
Listen to the Weatherman. Another point that often sinks in during the first months of car ownership is that seasonal maintenance is important. In colder areas, you'll have to think about snow tires or other seasonal adjustments, extra maintenance for the winter season, and being prepared with shovels and ice scrapers to dig out during storms. Even in warmer weather locations vehicles may need special care to protect against the heat. For instance, in desert heat you may want to take measures to prevent engine or cooling system issues. Think about the seasonal weather extremes in your area and make a plan to protect your vehicle accordingly.
Spend a little time planning for all of these considerations and you'll be ready to enjoy your new set of wheels.
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