1. Don’t rush
It is important to keep your emotions under control when considering your first vehicle purchase. Be conservative and don’t rush the decision, because it is one you will have to live with for a few years. Also, don’t forget to shop around for the best insurance rates.
2. What can I afford?
When asking this question you need to take into account more than just the purchase price. Besides the costs of financing, you also need to consider all the associated costs – fuel, maintenance, repairs and insurance, along with incidental expenses such as parking and registration fees, and possible changes to your monthly instalments should the interest rate go up. It might be a good idea to decide how much you can afford and how much you are willing to pay before you shop for a vehicle.
3. Choosing your ride
Ensure that the car comes with a full service history (a record of all the mechanical work that has been done to the car) should you be buying used, and only buy from a reputable and ethical organisation. The Ford Motor Company, for instance, has been recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute last year. More importantly, take the car for a test drive to decide whether you will be comfortable and happy in it for years to come.
4. Understand the terms and conditions
Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of your buyer’s contract and pay special attention to the interest rate and whether there is a balloon payment or residual value required at the end of the contract term. This is the total balance remaining on the car at the end of the payment plan, and it usually needs to be paid in full as a lump sum after all the monthly payments have been made. In some cases, refinancing of balloon payments or residual values is permitted.
5. Safety first
When buying a new set of wheels an important consideration is the safety features in the car – these could literally mean the difference between life and death. Safety features in any car are air bags, seat belts, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) which prevents the wheels from locking during braking and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), a system that steps in if your vehicle is about to skid out of control. Additional safety features include crumple zones, the structural features of your car which minimize the impact of an accident.