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9 Tips for First Time Car Buyers

So you’ve finally had it begging off rides with your friends and the whole Grab-Uber thing. You have now decided, after a lot of deliberation, that it is time to finally own a car. Besides buying a house, buying a car is pretty much a hallmark of adulthood and one of the major mileages of life.

It can be pretty overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with some tips to make it a lot less stressful than it needs to be.



Be realistic on how much you can spend and stick to it. Unless you’re paying for it in straight up cash, you’re gonna have to finance or lease your first ride. Decide how much of your income you can actually afford to spend monthly on thing like car payments, fuel, car insurance, parking, and vehicle maintenance.

Most banks offer car loans so that you almost never have to use up all your savings for your first ride. Paying for your car on an installment basis can help ease the strain on your bank account. When asking about a car loan, always review the interest rate, the amount of down payment, and the years to pay. Don’t forget to compare the monthly fees against your budget.

Of course, if you do have enough funds on hand, purchasing a car in cash is still the best option. You’ll save a lot on interest costs, and avoid the hassle of collating the numerous documentary requirements that come with applying for a loan.

Seriously, don’t ever go beyond what you can afford. Make sure that you can still live in financial security even with all the additional expenses.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the huge pile of choices of cars that fit your budget, the next step is to actually find a car that fits your needs. What are your daily activities? Are you a student or are you working? Do you have a family with kids, or is it just you and your pet husky? Will you drive off-road? Do you have a long commute? Manual or automatic?

For first-time buyers, a sedan is usually the best option. It’s more fuel efficient (most have 1.2-1.5 liter engines), and they’re generally easier to drive. It is a great choice for city dwellers who just need something light and convenient.

Safety, of course, should always be the top consideration. If you’re still iffy with parking or backing up, take a car that comes with parking aid sensors. Always check for properly situated airbags. Also, go for a car that has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), which lets you maneuver the car even when you’ve applied the brakes at high speed. Google is your best friend here. It’s time for research and reconnaissance!


Choosing the Car

After you’ve established your budget and what you’re looking for in a car, you can now use your Google-fu to narrow down your choices using comparisons and reviews. Check out forums, websites, Facebook groups, Youtube videos, subreddits, and all that jazz. Don’t be afraid to ask question. These people have experience in what you’re looking for and they’re usually happy to answer you. Research lifetime ownership costs too.

Understand that these things are a huge and important part in your decision making. Just because cars A, B and C have the same sticker price, this doesn’t mean that they’ll cost the same five years down the road.

There are several major factors that affect lifetime ownership costs, including:

  • Fuel
  • Maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Finance charges
  • Vehicle license
  • LTO registration fee
  • Taxes

Be realistic in your calculations to help you make an informed decision in what car to choose.


Now, should you buy from the dealership, or from a private seller?

Dealerships have a lot of benefits — some can offer help on your financing options in case your financial institution can’t match, they can help you with the paperwork, and they often offer warranties on their used cars. Private sellers are great too, but you’re gonna have to manage all the paperwork yourself and often, the cars are out of warranty. All methods have their pros and cons. Choose whichever floats your boat.

Something old or something new?

If your financial situation just won’t let you get a new car within your price range, consider buying a “preloved” car. A lot of them are available at dealerships, so all the aforementioned tips still apply.

Honestly, used cars are often the best choices. That’s because, when you buy a new car, it depreciates significantly the moment your drive it off the lot. When you buy used, someone else has taken the hit, even if the car is just a couple years old.


Take that baby for a spin!

Ok. You’ve found it. Your dream car. It’s perfect and fits your budget, and you’re pretty much in love. It’s now time to take that baby for a ride around the block. However, a test-drive shouldn’t be just driving around the block. You need to find out how driving the car feels and how it drives on the types of roads you’ll be using regularly. Make a list of things you want to check on your test drive. Some things you wanna consider:

  • Check the mirrors for blind spots, and if the car has blind spot monitors.
  • Find a nearby highway and see if the vehicle has enough power to comfortably merge with highway traffic.
  • Find an empty street with several winding turns or sharp corners to test the car’s handling.
  • See if the car parks easily, especially in parallel parking.
  • Check the brakes
  • Is it noisy in the cabin, or is it quiet?

Afterwards, whether you’re buying it from a dealer or private party, the owner should be able to tell you the car’s maintenance history, any mechanical problems or quirks, if the car was in an accident and the number of previous owners. Grill them on everything, just to cover your bases. Don’t forget the paperwork!


After the Purchase

Should you ever decide to take out a car loan, your dealership and your bank will require you to present a number of documents to prove your capacity to take your wheels home. Most of these documents have to do with your income, identity, and salary. These documents include:

  • Latest Income Tax Return
  • Certificate of Employment
  • Basic business permits (SEC registration, DTI registration, LGU permits), for those who are self-employed
  • Most recent company pay slips
  • Official government-issued ID

Lastly, relax and have fun!



We know that buying your first car seems like a chore, but even those with no interest or passion in cars can find the process fun if they let them. Take your time in the process, don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer choices offered to you.

This is a friendly reminder from your Acom Family. God bless you!



Photo by Carlo D’Agnolo on Unsplash