Tips for Buying Your First Car

couple buying first car

Congrats—you’re ready to purchase your first real car! The process can be daunting, but we will walk you through it. Follow these nine steps for a stress-free ride.

Determine if you really need a car

Maybe you weren’t expecting this, but it’s important to take a step back to review your actual transportation needs. Lots of college towns have a great bus system in place, which can save you loads on car costs. Also, if your campus has everything you need within walking distance, it can be cheaper to rent a car when you need it instead of buying one now.

Figure out your budget

Don’t start looking for your car until you’ve worked out a realistic budget. Take a hard look at your other monthly expenses to see how much you can spare for a new set of wheels. Don’t forget to include some cash for auto insurance, gas and maintenance. If you need help calculating a vehicle payment, check out our free online calculator.

Create a need and want list

This is your first car, so it doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles. Sit down and make a list of all the “must haves” and “wants” you’re looking for in a vehicle. Determine how much each feature would cost you in a car and decide which are really important.

Research your options

You’re ready to start looking for a vehicle that will satisfy your needs and wants. You can research ratings and user reviews on sites like AutoTrek and create another list containing your top three choices of car makes and models.

Get financing

Before you go shopping, stop by your credit union to learn about your auto loan options and get pre-approval. You can hit the road with no payments for 90 days with an auto loan from Partner Colorado.

Look up listings

Start looking for listings of your car choices online and in your neighborhood. Once you’ve found several that might work, research their histories on

Take it for a spin

If a car checks out and everything looks good, you’re going to want to take it for a test drive. Pay attention to details like leg room, acceleration, brake functionality and more while you drive.

Have it inspected

If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, it’s best to have it inspected by a mechanic before signing on the deal.

Make it official

If your car has passed the test drive and inspection, you’re ready to make it official! Be sure to read all documents before signing and obtain insurance before your first joyride.

These tips will help ensure you’re first car-buying experience is a success. Enjoy your new set of wheels and drive safely.