Buying Your First Car

How Much You Can Afford to Buy Your First Car

To afford means you have enough money or time for something. If you only have ten dollars on you, you can't afford to buy a twenty-dollar hat. Afford is a verb that has to do with means.

When buying your first car, you may spend hours poring over the different makes, models, dealers, even colors of your potential new vehicle. 

But when shopping for a new and first car, it is just as important to shop around for a car loan. You can often find a better interest rate through your local bank or credit union than you would find with dealer financing. Additionally, if you are not financing through the dealer, you may have more negotiating power to lower the amount that your car costs. Read on for our best tips on how to buy your first car. 

Buying your first car is a big financial commitment. It is important to carefully consider how much you can afford to pay for the car. Additionally, you need to look at how the value of your car will change over time. Here are five basic things to consider which will help you avoid making mistakes when you buy a car. Your options may be different if you do not qualify for a car loan.

The first thing you should do is determine how much you want to borrow. You should calculate how much you are willing to spend on a new car based on how much you can afford. A good rule of thumb is to spend only what you can easily pay over a three-year period. 

Naturally, how much you can afford to spend on a new and first car will determine what type of car you decide to purchase. Be realistic about what you can afford and don’t stretch your budget too much. It is important to keep your budget top of mind when buying a car and not get swept away by the excitement, as it will help you avoid some of the mistakes people make when buying a car.

Shop for a Loan Before You Shop for a Car

Before You Shop for a Car when it's time to buy a new car, everyone wants to get a fair deal.

Once you’ve established your budget, you can begin looking for a loan. Many lenders will not guarantee a rate until you sign the papers, but they will give you preapproval for a loan amount and the current rate. You should begin by contacting your bank. If you are eligible for a credit union, you should check there as well. Be sure to ask about automatic payments and lower interest rates. Most banks will lower your payments if you set up an automatic draft. Don’t automatically go through your local dealer for financing. First, determine if better rates are available elsewhere.

Look for a Car

Look for a Car If you expect to sell the car at some point, resale value is an important consideration, and nothing props up that value like low mileage.

Now that you’ve established your budget and secured funding, it’s time to actually start looking for a car. You can shop at dealerships, but do not be afraid to look in the classifieds and other online sources. You can find some great deals through these sources. 

However, if you do decide to purchase your car from a private seller, you should always have your car inspected by a mechanic you trust before purchasing it. A good mechanic can tell if the car has been in an accident, if it’s been totaled, or if there are any other major problems with the vehicle. 

This step is absolutely essential if you are buying from a private seller. If the seller seems reluctant to let you take the car to a mechanic, this should be a red flag. Also, be sure to educate yourself on the differences between buying a new and used car. 

Finish Filling Out the Loan Information

A car loan (also known as an automobile loan, or auto loan) is a sum of money a consumer borrows in order to purchase a car. ... Many consumers apply for car loans at their local bank. When applying for a car loan a borrower will usually begin by specifying how much money he or she wants to borrow.

Once you have picked out the car and negotiated the price, you will need to pay for your car. You can contact your bank with the final details. Generally, they will need the title or vehicle identification number to process the loan. Additionally, you will need to give them the title once you obtain it from the car’s previous owner.

If you are securing financing through the dealer, you can work out all the details at the time of purchase. However, be sure you are getting a good interest rate, not signing up for any hidden fees, and read the fine print. 

Register Your Car and Transfer the Title

Once the title is transferred, you need to go down to the DMV to register the transfer. The documents and information you will need vary by state, but will usually include: A bill of sale showing the purchase price. Proof the title has been signed over to you.

Once you own the car you will need to get a new title and tags (license plates) for your car. You can do this at your local DMV office. Most cities have a DMV for driver’s licenses and a different DMV for titles and tags. 

Another thing to keep in mind: You will not be allowed to register your car until you have found and purchased car insurance. You will need to take the proof of insurance with you to the DMV.


  1. Don’t automatically purchase a new car. A car is a depreciating asset, which means it decreases in value over time. The biggest amount of depreciation takes place in the first two or three years of a car’s life. You can save a lot of money by buying a two or three-year-old car.
  2. Let’s say you’re shopping for your second car. You can make more money by selling your car yourself instead of trading it in. Selling the car directly will likely make you more money than if you would simply trade it in at the dealer.
  3. Do not become upside down on your car. This happens when you rool your previous balance from your trade-in onto your new car loan. This is bad because if you tried to sell your car, you could not pay off the loan with the sale of the car. Additionally, if your car was totaled or stolen, the check from the insurance would not pay off the amount of the loan.
  4. Though not always realistic, it’s much better to save up and pay for a car with cash. It will free up your income since you will no longer have a monthly payment. Additionally, you will be able to save money on interest.
  5. Not sure you actually need a car or trying to save money for one? You may be able to get by with joining a car share for a year or two to save up enough money to buy your own.

What is your Dream car racing?

When someone asks, “What is your dream car racing?” there’s no wrong answer.

Mid-engined supercars are usually as curvy as banana-shaped soap, but Luc Donkerwolke’s teased and subtly blunted edges helped make this Lamborghini’s most-bought car ever.

Many of us think of that one special car racing, the one we dreamed about owning as a kid, or the one that made our jaw drop even as an adult. We imagine one day being able to walk into a dealership, slap down the cash and drive off into the sunset.

Life is short. Why drive a car you don’t really like, when the car of your dreams might be within your reach? We talked to several people about what it’s like to drive your dream car racing, and they shared their best advice.

Your dream car racing might be a Ford Ranger pickup like the one your uncle used to drive. It might be an adorable Fiat in mocha brown. Or it might be an orange Trans Am with a Screaming Chicken painted on the hood. Trends and taste have nothing to do with true car love.

When you drive your dream car racing, it’s all about the behind-the-wheel feel.

The latest in a long line of mid-engined Ferrari V8s Car, the 488 serves a fine blend of raw beauty, aggressive intent and aerodynamic effectiveness

You might like the look of a particular car, but if you don’t love driving it, it’s not going to work for you. Dream cars deserve to be driven, not kept in a garage gathering dust. Darryl H.’s dream car racing for 11 years was a black 1990 560SEL Mercedes-Benz. The 560SEL was a great-looking car, but for Darryl, it was all about the power and comfort behind the wheel. “Even with age, she always had a majestic smooth ride,” he says.

And that’s OK. “My dream car racing for a long time was a VW Beetle, pearl white with the number 53 on its hood. Yep, I wanted Herbie the Love Bug,” says Charles G. But by the time he was old enough to buy one, VW had changed the design — and the New Beetle just wasn’t the same. “When I test drove it, the dream was dead,” he says.

Dream car racing can change.

The XJ220 Car is ageing well, especially against today’s spiky-looking supercar

Then Charles saw the IFA F9 convertible roadster and fell in love. This Russian made beauty was truly the car of his dreams.

A ‘dream car’ isn’t necessarily the most expensive, the fastest, the most powerful or the most beautiful — it can also be all four. Or a combination, of course. Dream cars come in all shapes and sizes; they can be old or new; practical or frivolous. 2018 was filled to the brim with prime candidates deserving of the title.

Dream car racing are often expensive to maintain.

This Car is your classic race-to-the-riviera Italian GT: long-bonneted, curvaceous and just a little bit louche.

People are often forced to get rid of their dream cars because they simply can’t afford repairs. Ailsa L. inherited a seabreeze-green 1969 Plymouth Valiant from her aunt. The aunt had lovingly kept the car in perfect shape, with only 21,000 miles on the odometer. “Not a lick of rust,” Ailsa says, “but slowly, over time, things began to go wrong mechanically and it became too much to keep her maintained. Eventually I could only get Rush Limbaugh on the radio, the air conditioning stopped working and her engine brackets broke.” If your dream car is a classic or luxury car, put aside cash for repairs in a special fund.

Aside from upping the number of vehicles in their lineups, the next biggest trend for automotive manufacturers seems to be buying, restoring and selling their own classic cars.

Once you buy your dream car racing, don’t let go.

This certainly isn’t a bland BMW, with its flowing, manta ray-like forms creating a truly striking, beautiful look.

When you talk to people about their dream cars, you hear over and over how much they regret giving them up. “I still cry when I realized the mistake of trading her,” Darryl says of his Mercedes. “I had so many great times with her and spent just about all I made to keep her on the road.”

Karen C., on the other hand, is still driving her dream car: a Volkswagen Cabrio convertible. “17 years and we are still together. Wind. Hair. All good,” she says. The lesson: Save up for repairs (see above), take good care of your car and keep it as long as you possibly can.

Karen C., on the other hand, is still driving her dream car: a Volkswagen Cabrio convertible. “17 years and we are still together. Wind. Hair. All good,” she says. The lesson: Save up for repairs (see above), take good care of your car and keep it as long as you possibly can.

To hell with number-matching parts, this Discovery is as close to perfect as you can get.You could easily spend thousands on flights, rooms and accommodations, or you can just get this pop-up camper.Making a name for yourself in the modern automotive world is nearly impossible. Breaking into the supercar arena is even harder.

Insure your dream car racing to the max.

Huge, arcing air intakes, a nose of thrusting width and an octet of penetrating headlights underline the Chiron’s compelling absurd potency, but there’s class, too.

In 1995 a truck sideswiped Ailsa’s Seabreeze Plymouth Valiant. “The insurance company claimed it was totaled,” she says, “but I fought hard and managed to get $2,000 to get her repaired.” She was lucky — but you might not be. If you’re fortunate enough to drive your dream car, don’t skimp on insurance coverage. Get free auto insurance quotes on to find out which company will give you the best coverage for the lowest rates.

Better judgment, financial responsibility and myriad other reasons keep many of us from making that purchase, so to find out what it’s like actually drive a dream car off the lot we looked to took to — the online question and answer community — to get some first-hand accounts. And while some of the answers fit the bill for traditional dream cars, it quickly became apparent that not everyone’s four-wheeled fantasy is the same.

Achieving a dream, with unexpected results

Quora user Todd Wascom decided a few years back that after forgoing any fun cars for nearly 10 years it was high time to find one. After mulling over his options, he finally decided on a Nissan GT-R. “For the money (at the time) there was literally nothing on the market that could compete with that car in terms of power and handling,” he wrote.

When Wascom and his 10-year-old son arrived at the dealership he said they were treated like royalty and, after proving he could afford the car, took a test drive tearing down Georgia back roads. He drove back to the dealer, bought the car and said he got his first taste of what it’s like to be a D-list celebrity. Porsche owners followed him to gas station to talk about the car, people would stop eating their meal and point to the GT-R when he rolled up, and there was lots of picture-taking wherever he went.

“The sense of accomplishment when you sit in a car like this that you’ve earned is incredible. You’re in the stratosphere. Other men (and women) will slow to admire your car. People lust after it. And the whole time you’re in the drivers seat. This is your car. That you bought. With your money,” then adding, “But that fades to a degree.”

He admitted that when he first bought the car he was looking for a sense of validation. “An expensive car doesn’t validate anything. It’s simply a symbol of your ability to buy something most people can’t. I traded the GTR in that December and never looked back.”

He knows not everyone buys fast cars for validation, and even says he might buy another dream car in the future — but not without a new perspective. “And who doesn’t want to learn a bit about life and one’s self in a world-class supercar?,” he wrote.

Different strokes for different folks

The phrase “dream car” typically conjures up images of red hot, mid-engine, Italian sheet metal, but some drivers look for a bit more practicality in their dream cars. When Simon Holzmanmoved from Great Britain to the U.S. he drove around in a used $800 Ford Festiva for a while, before upgrading to a brand new, emerald green Mazda Miata.

After more than a 11 years of cruising around, the compact convertible still hasn’t gotten old for Holzman. “I have a 20 mile drive down one of the most scenic roads in America, which is the best commute ever. The top is down, my grin makes the Riddler look grumpy and I’m accelerating through corners with joy in my heart.” With a family to take care of, Holzman has no plans to replace his dream car once it dies, and added that if the Miata’s “engine explodes and she crashes 2,000 feet into the canyon below,” he’ll see if he can have the body shop buff it out.

For some of us, dream cars aren’t actually cars at all. “I’m reading all these answers and kinda chuckling, my dream car wasn’t much to speak of. I just wanted a Jeep, a really nice Jeep,” John Gannon wrote. He said growing up his mom wouldn’t let him buy one because she was afraid he’d roll it over — but now he’s older and on his second one.

He put 60,000 miles on the first Jeep be bought and he said he has big plans for the second. “If you’ve never had a chance to drive one, go do it. They’re fun as hell,” he wrote.

Quora user Eric Ruck knows what it’s like to buy an unlikely dream car as well. When he turned 40 he started looking for his must-have vehicle at Maserati, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz dealerships, and while he says he liked all the cars, he didn’t love any of them. “Remember, you’re not just buying a car for $80-150K. You’re buying the car’s maintenance schedule,” he said. “You better really, really love the car.”

So, after shopping around on the fancy car circuit, he ended up buying a Volvo S80. He admits it’s an unusual choice, but says he’s more than 100,000 miles into his dream car and has no regrets. “Midlife crisis car fail? Maybe. Still love it.”