Buying your first car will require a lot of hard work on your part. With such an expensive and important investment, you simply can’t choose one based on a whim and what your family or friends say you should get.

As a first-time car buyer, you have to make sure you get the ideal vehicle on your first try to avoid a lot of problems and dipping into your savings to pay for any unexpected expenses.

To help you have an easier time with your first car-shopping experience and enable you to make the right decision, here are seven important factors you need to consider:

1. Your primary reason for buying a car

Owning a car means having the freedom to get from one place to another without relying on a bus, cab, or other car owners. But aside from this, your vehicle can serve other secondary functions as well.

As such, before you go car-shopping, make a checklist of the other purposes you want your vehicle to serve. This will help narrow down your list of the best types and models you can choose from.

2. The test drive

Once you’ve made a list of vehicle brands and models that meet your requirements, take each for a test drive to see how you feel in it and how it performs. Try to test drive all the cars you’re considering on the same day so that you can quickly compare them.

To make sure you are test driving your preferred vehicles properly, remember these useful tips and hints:

  • Start the engine from cold to see if the car has any cold-start problems
  • Drive the car for at least 30 minutes to get a proper feel for it and to make sure you are comfortable in it
  • Test drive the car on different roads so that you can be sure you won’t have problems driving it on other terrains. Following this tip will also allow you to know how it feels to drive the car on different surfaces and at different speeds.
  • During the test drive, be wary of any unusual noises or things such as excessive smoke coming from the engine when you start the car.

If you don’t feel comfortable in the vehicle and it doesn’t meet your expectations in terms of ease in maneuvering, test drive other cars until you find the best one that meets your needs and budget.

3. Features of the car

At the very least, make sure your vehicle comes with all the basic features you’re looking for. These should include:

  • Fully functional cooling and heating system
  • Spacious legroom
  • Functioning air bags
  • Working windows, doors, and seatbelts

If you want more high tech features, look for these in the cars you are interested in. These include keyless entry and engine start and stop system, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and digital instrument panel.

4. Your budget

Consider the total cost of the vehicle you are interested in buying. However, you also need to be aware of all the ownership expenses beyond the down payment and monthly car payment. These include the costs of gas, maintenance, repairs, and insurance.

If your budget isn’t too high, you can think about buying a used car. With your money, you will be able to pay for your vehicle with cash. You then won’t have to worry about being burdened by a loan you will be repaying for years.

5. Your financing options

Taking out an auto loan is the traditional and still the most popular way of owning a car. You can apply for this in-house or get this from a separate financial institution such as a bank or lending company.

To take out the best loan that won’t leave you buried in debt, study all your financing options first. Make sure you meet all the requirements for applying for a car loan. Look for the best option that has the lowest interest rate and offers flexible payment terms.

6. Freebies or perks offered by the dealer

Aside from the free coffee or soda, find out what the dealer offers. They may even have a first-time car buyer program which can be a big help for first-time buyers like yourself.

Other standard perks you can expect include a free tank of gas, another set of keys, and floor mats. Some dealers even offer service vouchers and free or discounted window tinting services.

7. The impact of the car on the environment

Lastly, buying a brand new car means contributing to environmental waste since it will leave a carbon footprint that never existed before. This is something that you won’t do if you buy a used vehicle since the pre-owned car already has a carbon footprint.

In addition, consider gas emission as well. Vehicular emissions increase the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. You can consider getting an environmentally friendly car so that you won’t own a vehicle that contributes to air pollution.

Owning your first car can be an exciting thought. But don’t let your feelings of excitement dictate the vehicle you will buy. To be sure you will own a car that meets your needs and won’t give you any problems, study your options and prepare well for this task.