It’s finally time to take a whiff of freedom with your own vehicle. You’ll be able to drive wherever you want, whenever you want. It’s a huge accomplishment and a big purchase. Therefore, you want to make sure you’ve done everything you can to plan for getting your new car so you go home with exactly the type of car you want.

Before Looking for a Car

Your search for a car doesn’t exactly start with looking for a car on a lot. It starts with the research you do when finding out what car is right for you. A lot of the research you do should be based on the following questions:

"What is my budget for buying a car?"

Your budget should not only include the price of the car, but also the cost of registration and insurance costs. You should not buy a car that nearly drains you to your last dollar because then you won’t have the money to maintain it.

"What kind of car is right for me?"

Some things to consider here are how many passengers you’re going to have and how often you will be driving the car. For example, if you are driving far distances to work or school every day, you would want something with good gas mileage.

"Should I buy new or used?"

Of course, all of us would take a brand new car if we could, but this isn’t always the smartest option. It’s going to depend on the questions above as to whether you will buy new or used.

On the Hunt

When you first begin looking for your first car, you’ll likely stop at a number of dealerships. A lot of people feel a lot more at ease buying a car from a licensed dealer. For dealership vehicles, check out your local paper for ads to see if there are any great deals on cars.

While it’s true that you will have a bit more assurance with a private dealership (due to Lemon Laws), you may still find it beneficial to search for a car from a private party. You can find some excellent deals on cars with past owners who really took care of the car and kept up with all of the maintenance. To find some good deals, you can check out your local paper or trade journal where people pay to advertise their cars.

If you stumble upon a used car that you may want to buy, it would be a good idea to ask for a vehicle history report to see if the vehicle is salvaged, has been in accidents, or has gotten an odometer change.

Any way you choose, you’ll want to take an experienced car buyer with you. Because prices can often be negotiable, you’ll want someone to help you out with the talking down of the price, if possible. If you happen to have a relative who’s a car mechanic, that person should be your first choice so he or she can do a good inspection on it during the test drive. You will always want to take a car for a test drive to see how it’s running, and you’ll want to see what’s going on under the hood as well. This is especially important when buying from a private seller; you don’t want to buy a vehicle that is going to need some significant repairs soon.

Car Buying Paperwork

The paperwork that goes into buying a car can be quite extensive. However you decide to purchase your car, dealer or private seller, you will need to fill out some paperwork before taking the car home.

It can definitely be less of a burden going through the paperwork at a dealership because they take you through the process quite easily. However, you should definitely read everything they are giving you instead of blindly signing off on it. When you make the purchase and start driving off the lot, you should know the details of everything ranging from the warranty to your title. It’s best if the dealer reads the paperwork with you, and since this is such an important purchase, do not be afraid to ask questions.

If you end up purchasing your car from a private seller, both you and the seller must provide the paperwork. The most important sheet you will is the Bill of Sale, which serves as documentation for the sale of the vehicle. A thorough Bill of Sale has all of a person’s important contact information, vehicle information, and the selling price. A lot of states require that a Bill of Sale be notarized.

The majority of people will sell their vehicles “as is,” which means you are purchasing the car in the exact condition that it’s in. This means that once you pay for it, you own the car and all of the responsibilities that come with it. If you happen to be buying from someone who wants to offer a guarantee, you must be sure to have it in writing and have it notarized.

If you get a little lost trying to figure out the paperwork while purchasing a car from a private seller, call up your local agency that is in charge of vehicle transactions.


Now you know exactly how to buy that first car. If you end up buying from a private party, there are a couple more steps. You will need to bring all of your paperwork to the DMV to have the title and registration process taken care of.

On the other hand, if you bought your car from a dealer, all of that paperwork is done for you, so you likely won’t even need to make any trips to the DMV. All you have to do is drive around with a temporary license until your permanent one arrives in the mail.