Buying Your First Car: 10 Things Every Millennial Needs to Know

Buying your first car can be intimidating, and even more so if you are a millennial and it seems like an impossibly “adult” challenge to take on. Society today doesn’t always give millennials enough credit for being business-savvy, and you run the risk of being taken advantage of when it comes to making big purchases. So we have partnered up with Vroom to create a guide to help you show up informed, confident, and totally legit.

1. Basic Car Buying Rule:

Make sure you have at least 20% to put down on the car, or you will probably end up owing more on it than it’s worth. If you can’t come up with the 20%, don’t do it! If you can’t pay it off in four years, don't do it! Instead, wait a while longer or look for a cheaper car.

2. Where to buy

Car shopping can be one of the most draining experiences, but there are many ways to do it. There’s the traditional dealership (where you will likely be pushed around once they sense you are a newbie), word of mouth (not much variety), and of course online. 

Vroom was founded on the idea that buying a car shouldn’t be a pain in neck, so you can browse and shop online and get it delivered to your house for free to try out, making the whole experience that much more pleasant. Just type in what car you want to drive, and check out all the specifications and haggle-free prices. 

3. The best time to purchase your first car.

  • The end of December when sellers are looking to finish the year strong. 
  • The end of summer when new models come out.
  • Stay informed on rebates and manufacturer incentives.
  • End of the month when sellers want to meet a quota. 

4. Buying a used car

Buying a used car can be daunting, so there are a few things you can do to be safe. 

Look for low mileage. If you want someone else to do all the work for you, Vroom offer vehicles that have been thoroughly checked out and guaranteed to give you great value for the money. More than 80% of the cars for sale on Vroom are less than three-years old, and as for price, you don’t have to worry as they cut out the middleman and sell directly to you the customer, giving you the best deal possible.

If you are buying a car directly from an individual, purchase a report yourself if the owner doesn’t already have one.  If you are buying a car privately, make sure to take it to a mechanic to get it checked out before closing the deal.

5. Leasing a Car

Leasing a car is like renting: you pay a specific amount for a specific about of time, like you would an apartment, then you return it. Most leases require that you are at least eighteen, and have good credit history, which can be difficult if you are young. If you have a responsible adult who is willing to co-sign for you and you drive less than 12,000 miles per year, leasing may be a good option for you,  but it’s most likely going to cost you more over the long haul.     

6. How to reduce your insurance:

  • Raise your deductible.
  • Go for a used car.
  • Shop around for the best policy.
  • Look for a good student discount.
  • Keep a clean driving record.

7. Car Maintenance

Make sure you can afford all the expenses that go with owning and driving a car.  Rule of Thumb:  add at least $225 for gas and maintenance per month (hybrids are cheaper!).

  • Use the gas the manufacturer recommends.
  • Follow the maintenance schedule from the manufacturer. 
  • Change the oil every 3,000 miles. 
  • Check your tires often to make sure they have the proper amount of air.
  • Look for tread wear on your tires. 
  • Align and balance your tires every 12,000 miles. 
  • Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. 

8. Consider your lifestyle.

One of the most important things to consider when buying your first car is your lifestyle. Are you an outdoorsy type? Do you have one or two or twenty dogs (the dream)? Do you drive long distances frequently? Do you have a million friends who always need a ride? Vroom’s huge selection includes tons of cars that will make your life much easier.

9. Hone your basic negotiating skills.

Any big purchase will require some negotiation, so being prepared will help you feel more confident. Some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Stick to your own style: If you’re not an aggressive shark, don’t try to be. Remember you are fighting for the right thing and they are not doing you a favor by selling you a car, so draw confidence from that knowledge.
  • Have other options: Having other cars on your radar will lessen the pressure, and make you more relaxed when negotiating a deal. Not all is lost if it doesn't work out.
  • Make them feel good about giving you a deal: The art in any negotiation in life is making the person who has what you want feel good about letting you have it. Whatever your style may be, make them feel great about themselves and you will have won half the battle. 

10. Get your finances in order.

Many factors can affect the type of financing terms you may receive from a bank, the main ones being credit score, debt-to-income ratio, size of down payment, the age of the car, and length of the loan. Online services like Vroom partner with the best banks in the country to help you get into the best financial situation when purchasing a car, and make the buying process hassle-free.

Happy car shopping!

(This article is a collaboration with Vroom - get $250 cash back using code VIPAUS23!)