Monday, August 28, 2017

Lessons for first-time car buyers

This post was written in conjunction with a US Family Guide media effort on behalf of All opinions in this article are 100% mine. 

I just purchased car #3 in my lifetime. I had a good experience using the convenience of email and sites/apps like for searching and pricing. I am thrilled with my sapphire blue Honda Pilot and the fantastic price I was able to get by driving about 30 minutes out of the major metro area. 

For first-time car purchasers, the buying process and early ownership can cause worry. But do not fear! You can purchase a vehicle and ensure a fair price with the right research and effort. Taking care of your new vehicle is a matter of three steps. 

New car buying: research and reach out

To purchase your new vehicle, do the research first. Visit car pricing sites to determine which features you want on your vehicle and which trim levels match what you want. allowed me to make sense of Honda's EX, EXL, Touring, and Elite trims and see how each added luxury feature affected the price. I was able to understand what the price should be for my preferred vehicle. 

After research, make the effort to contact 8-10 dealerships, even those that may mean a bit of a drive. When you live in a big city like I do (Atlanta metro), you may find that a dealership in a smaller city will be more willing to meet your price. I got my vehicle for a few thousand dollars less in Cartersville! helped me to browse dealership inventory (I was looking for sapphire blue, for example) and contact information for dealers.   

Taking care of your first car

A new car is a big investment, so take good care of it. Follow these three rules to enjoy your vehicle for a long time. 

Keep it clean
Be respectful of the money you spent and treat your vehicle with kindness. Kids and pets can, of course, be messy, but take time to clean out the interior whenever you can. Wash the exterior so brake dust, road salt, pollen, and other environmental irritants do not damage wheel wells and paint.
Never forget regular maintenance
Know your vehicle fluids and keep an eye on levels. Get oil changes as needed. Never ignore recall notices. Find a mechanic you trust and keep your car running smoothly.

Drive safely and watch out for door dings
Obviously, you want an accident-free life for your new car. Drive safely and follow traffic laws. Door dings can happen anywhere, and they are way too common in the city and suburbs. My blue beauty has two dings already, and I have owned it for only four months. (Luckily, I took advantage of the door ding and windshield repair coverage from my awesome dealership, so those will be gone soon). If you have to park farther away, do it. Getting a door ding on a new vehicle is not cool. 

For other great advice on new car ownership, check out the first time car buyer advice on  

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