Wheel advice: Tips for first-time car buyers


Car experts urge first-time buyers to take their time before making the final purchase.

A majority of first-time car buyers don’t understand how the process works. So buying or leasing can be exhilarating but nerve-wracking at the same time.

First time buyers should take the time to research different models. Factor in all the perks a car can come with to determine if it’s right for you.

“Do your homework. Today’s buyer is a lot different than 10 years ago. You use to go on a dealers’ lot, see what they have and it might of been the wrong decision,” said Wayne Carter, general manager at Budd’s Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC, in Oakville.

Doing your homework on what vehicle to spend money on will be the second biggest purchase, after a home you’re ever likely to make.

Take the time and weigh the options to have a car last you the next three to five years.

“Today you have the internet and help sites on what to buy,” said Carter. “Understand that your lives change more when you’re younger than when you’re older. Buying the smallest, littlest car might work financially and but it might not be the right car a few years from now.

After looking at the general cost of cars come up with a favourite Top 5.

Mike Holroyd, leasing manager at Oak-Land Ford Lincoln, who has been in the industry for 25 years suggests, “Narrow it down and go to each manufacturer and have a no obligation test drive.”

The drive test will allow you to get to know how well the car drives.

“The most important thing to the person that buys the car is when they’re making the payments they need to be happy and have a smile on their face,” said Holroyd.

The next step is finding a dealership or car salesman.

Few salesmen at dealerships have an ulterior motive when you’re shopping for a vehicle. So when you’re looking around it’s important to find a location that has great customer service.

“The most important thing is to look at the reputation of the dealership you’re buying the vehicle from because not all dealers are the same,” said Mark Dren, sales and leasing consultant at Kennedy Ford Sales in Oakville.

The Internet can help you find a great dealership or salesman via reviews posted online.

“There’re things like dealer rater where you can see the reputation of the dealership that you’re buying from. You can go on consumer reviews for a car, like auto123, that tell you the reliability ratings of that vehicle,” said Dren.

Although things have changed from 40 years ago, buying a car from a reputable dealer in today’s society is made easier from research found online.

“In this line of business you want to look for a person that has more questions for you and listens to you than the sales person that ignores what you say and is trying to sell you a car that he wants to sell,” said Holroyd.

A salesman can also pile together information of multiple car quotes to make the research easier.

“The car’s history, that says a lot about it. It shows if the car has ever been in a collision or anything like that,” said Dren. “On a modern car that’s really important because of the way cars are built now. They have a unibody structure and if that’s damaged, when it’s fixed it may not be fixed with the same structural integrity as when the car was new.”

Whenever looking for a used vehicle, the dealer should be able to provide a car history and if they don’t, then walk away.

Big name dealerships have strict rules when selling used cars and are required to do a full maintenance check of the vehicle before they can put it back onto their lot. The vehicles have to pass these tests in order to be considered safe to drive.

Used cars have a past. A car history report reveals it to you. But getting a second set of eyes is never a bad thing to have on a car lot or off the lot when factoring future maintenance costs.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘I want my mechanic to look at this car.’ If a dealership does not allow that, I would be suspicious of that,” said Dren.

After figuring out what car you want, decide whether you want to lease, buy or finance a vehicle.

Students have special plans dedicated for them at lenders or dealerships.

Don’t make monthly car payments the only thing you think about, factor in every aspect required to own a vehicle.

“Look at your needs, don’t just look at the monthly payments don’t get caught up with the ad,” said Carter. “Weigh your entire budget, you got maintenance fuel, and insurance sometimes it’s more than a monthly car payment. “

Young buyers don’t always need credit to get a car. A parent or relative’s signature is sometimes good enough. It doesn’t mean that the co-signer is responsible for making the payments.

You need to know the budget that was set and it will slowly factor out the wants and stick with the needs of a vehicle.

“You’re wants disappear because you can only afford the payments so you’re probably going to settle for an entry level car to keep you in the budget range you need to be in,” said Holroyd.

At the end of the day, sitting down at a computer, researching and getting out there on car lots are the most important things to do when getting a new vehicle.