5 Tips for First Time Car Buyers

Buying your first car is a major step. As a first-time car buyer, choosing your very own car for the very first time is a big decision, and it can be just as daunting as it is exciting. After all, a car is one of the biggest purchases most people make in their entire lifetime—for most people, it’s second only to buying a house. 

Buying a car for the very first time doesn’t have to be stressful, though—as long as you go about it the right, smart way. If you’re in the market for your very first car, check out these 5 tips for first-time car buyers before you make your purchase. 

  1. Create a Smart Budget 

The first step to making any big purchase-including buying a car—is creating a budget for yourself. When creating a budget for buying a car, keep in mind that you should put at least a 20% down payment on any car you buy at the time of purchase to avoid defaulting on your car loan in the future. 

It’s okay to finance your car. In fact, very few first-time car buyers—and car buyers in general—are able to pay the full price of their car upfront. However, you should ensure that your car payments plus any expenses that come with owning a car—such as the cost of gas, registration, and car insurance payments—will not be higher than 20% of your monthly income. 

  1. Prioritize Practicality 

Buying a car for the first time is very exciting, and it can be tempting to want to buy the prettiest or the most high-tech car that fits into your budget. While there’s nothing wrong with creating a list of features you can’t live without in your new car, prioritizing practicality is key to purchasing a car that will serve you well for many years. 

If you commute daily to work or school, check out a hybrid or all-electric vehicles that offer unbeatable gas mileage. If you often carry cargo or several passengers with you when you drive, go with an SUV rather than a cute and tiny sedan model. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself for prioritizing practicality over flashy features when you buy your first car. 

  1. Buy Used 

first-time car buyer looks at used car inventory first-time car buyer looks at used car inventory

For first-time car buyers, choosing a used car instead of a brand-new model can save you a ton of money and help you avoid losing money through the steep value depreciation that is inevitable with new cars. When it comes to cars, more drivers than ever are choosing to buy used rather than new—and for good reason. 

If you do decide to buy a used car, avoid private sellers at all costs and opt for a used model from an official auto dealership instead. Official auto dealerships provide full vehicle history reports on the used cars they sell and often offer special warranties on their used models that guarantee their safe, drivable condition before you buy—whereas with a private seller, nothing is guaranteed and you’re on your own once you make your purchase. 

  1. Keep Your Eye Out for Deals 

Many auto dealerships offer special deals on the vehicle models they sell. Taking advantage of these deals can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your car purchase. 

Before you buy your first car, do some research on the auto dealerships in your area and take note of any special deals they are currently offering. If no auto dealerships in your area are advertising any special deals, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Many car salesmen will offer you special deals and more flexible financing options if you are forthcoming and ask about your options upfront. 

  1. Get a Cosigner 

Many first-time car buyers are young and have somewhat low credit scores simply because they haven’t yet had the opportunity to establish good credit over time. If you use your own credit to finance your car, you might end up with a high-interest rate and get stuck with a car loan that is difficult for you to pay off. 

It is often a smart idea for first-time car buyers to get a co-signer—someone more experienced with a better credit score that co-signs your car purchase for you. Your car will still be yours and it will be in your name. Having a willing co-signer just helps you secure more flexible financing options and better auto loans with lower interest rates—which can help you pay off your car more quickly and easily. 

Buying a car for the first time doesn’t have to be so stressful. These 5 tips for first-time car buyers are designed to help guide your first car-buying process to help ensure that you end up with the car of your dreams on your very first try. Contact us if you have any questions. We'd love to help!

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Master Indicator Light On Your Nissan Altima?

It’s natural to feel slightly unnerved when the master indicator light turns on in your Nissan Altima. This warning light is hard to miss. It shows up on your dashboard as a bright triangular symbol with an exclamation point inside the triangle. Unlike other warning symbols that light up on your dash from time to time, the master warning light does not indicate a specific problem—which leaves you wondering what is wrong with your car and how serious the issue might be.
An illuminated master indicator light in your Nissan Altima is not necessarily causing for alarm. This light can be triggered by any number of issues, most of which are very minor and some others that are more urgent and require immediate attention. That being said, you should never ignore your car’s master warning light once you notice that it is illuminated. As soon as you see that this light has turned on, take your Altima to a nearby Nissan dealership or a reputable auto body repair shop in your area and request a thorough inspection.
Or, if you are able to successfully diagnose the problem yourself and successfully get the master warning light to turn off, you can save yourself the hassle of a time- consuming, potentially expensive trip to your local dealership. Here are five reasons why the master indicator light might turn on in your Nissan Altima—and five solutions for how you can fix the problem as quickly and easily as possible.

1. You Left Your Headlights On

If you forget to turn off your headlights, your Nissan Altima’s master warning light will illuminate before you leave your car.
Check your headlights as soon as you stop driving if you notice that your car’s master indicator light has turned on. If you’ve left your headlights on accidentally, that warning light could save you from dealing with a dead car battery the next time you get in the car to drive somewhere.

2. Your Fuel Cap is Loose

If you notice that your car’s master warning light is on after you fill your car up with gas —and it wasn’t illuminated before you stopped to re-fueled—your fuel cap is the most likely culprit. fuel cap loose
In this scenario, find a safe place to pull over or park your car and get out to examine its fuel cap. Even if the cap looks secure at first glance, give it a couple of extra twists to make sure it’s really on there tight. If the master indicator light turns off once you start driving again, you’re good to go. If it remains illuminated, then the source must be a different problem.

3. You Forgot to Release Your Parking Brake

This trigger for your Altima’s master indicator light is an excellent cautionary example of why you should try your best to determine the root cause of that illuminated triangle on your dashboard as soon as it appears.
While this issue might seem very minor because it doesn’t put you or your passengers in immediate danger, forgetting to release your parking brake and leaving it engaged while you drive can damage your brakes and other essential—and expensive to replace —parts and systems of your car.
Fortunately, this problem is very easy to fix. All you have to do is release your parking brake. If you choose to ignore the master warning light on your dashboard, however, you can end up doing some serious damage to your car.

4. You’re Almost Out of Gas

Your Nissan Altima’s master warning light will turn on when your car’s fuel tank gets close to empty as an extra reminder for you to refuel ASAP or risk getting stranded on the road somewhere.
In addition to low fuel, low levels of washer fluid, coolant, or other essential fluids can also trigger your car’s master warning light. Check all of the fluids in your car before you rule out low fluid levels as the reason why your Altima’s master indicator light is illuminated.

5. The Pressure in One of Your Tires is Low

Low tire pressure is one of the most serious and potentially dangerous problems that can trigger your Altima’s master warning light. If the pressure in one or more of your car’s tires is low, that tire is much more likely to go flat or blow out—which can cause a serious accident if it happens while you’re on the road.
If you know how to check your car’s tire pressure yourself, check it as soon as possible to rule out low tire pressure as the reason your car’s master indicator light is on. Or, take your car into your local dealership or repair shop and ask a professional there to check the pressure in your tires.

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