Buying your first car always seems like a milestone. The sense of excitement, the curtailing of impulsive behaviour, the data-mining and research and the eventual decision, all build up to the that you have been waiting for. Maybe a moment that defines your success?
People buy cars for various reasons, but let us not forget the most primary one– to get from point A to point B, in relative comfort. In the context of buying a car, one must always remember to make a well-informed choice, that ticks off all the boxes. Fun, practicality, and everything else that matters to you. After all, you need to live with the automobile for a considerable period. And your loved ones will use it as well.
So, while buying a car is indeed a landmark happy occasion, for some, it becomes a daunting nightmare. Well, it isn’t so much of a puzzle anymore, if you follow a plan. Keep the following points in mind, when you are buying a car for the first time. The process has been divided into stages, each as important as the other.
- Garage Space- This is highly important, as parking space is anyways a premium. Moreover, you don’t want to end up with a car that doesn’t fit in the space you have designated. Does the garage have provision to keep spare tools? Is the space covered?
- Budget- While this would have been predetermined, it helps to know whether you are taking into account ex-showroom rates, road tax and other parameters. Does your budget account for accessories? Do you want to install seat covers or a better music system? Do you want to buy a vehicle cover? Make sure you have a budget that covers your new car, and all you want to buy with it.
- Car type- This depends on your usage. Do you want a hatchback or a sedan? This will depend on the number of members in your family. Do you want an automatic or a manual car? Do you want the car to run on petrol, diesel or LPG? Also, many manufacturers offer safety features across models, like ABS and airbags.
- Brand and dealership knowledge- Be sure you know everything about the brand, it’s pros and cons. Look out for red flags like poor after-sales service, or unauthorised dealerships. Choose a brand that offers safety, security and a lifetime of support.
- The best time- Festival periods like Diwali often see dealers giving discounts and gifts. Avoid buying a car in December, as waiting a month more will ensure you have a newer automobile, on paper.
The Test Drive.
- Test drive personally- Never take anyone’s word for it, and always insist on a test drive. Take a few rounds, check acceleration, braking, AC speed, and turning radius, as well as parking ease.
- Second Opinions. – Always make sure to take a friend or relative with you to get a second opinion. Make sure your companion also takes a comprehensive test drive and collate your opinions for the best decision.
- All Promises in Writing- Dealers have this habit of exaggerating, providing spot discounts and offering you the world. Just to tempt you to sign the dotted line quickly. Take your time, and if any promises are being made, ask for them in writing.
Sealing The Deal.
- Shop Around- This will reveal the best deal. Pitting dealerships against one another will give you a clear picture of the unique benefits that each offers. The dealers will obviously try to woo you with the best deal, so choose carefully.
- Finance Options- Read all the terms and conditions of each financing option, so you know what suits your budget the best. Certain schemes will require a smaller down payment while others will be long-term. If you have fixed deposits, it will be to your advantage. If you have ready cash, even better.
- Insurance- You can either avail dealer assistance or look out for insurance options outside the dealership. There are online portals that will show you the best insurance schemes which you can choose, according to your budget. Don’t leave the car uninsured. Get this done as soon as the vehicle is in your hands.
- Physical check before registration- It isn’t uncommon for dealerships, even reputed ones, to patch up a vehicle and sell it. Before you get the car registered at the RTO, do carry out a thorough physical check, from the paint to the rear-view mirrors
- Documentation- This is very important. Check the car chassis and engine number and see if it matches the owner’s manual. Ensure you have the insurance, PUC certificate, sales certificate, all payments receipts, original warranty and extended warranty (if any), duplicate key and the roadside assistance contact details.
- After taking delivery, speak to the sales staff about first service dates, and thank them for their assistance. You are now a car owner and can drive out of the showroom. Before using it again, read the owner’s manual carefully, end to end, and make sure you adhere to the run-in period of your new car.
Cars sometimes tend to stretch the budget, when you take into account running costs. That two-door sports convertible you drool over might look and sound appealing, but if you have a family, and are taking a large loan, it may be an impractical choice. Choose your options based on your needs. And most importantly, don’t give in to dealer pressure, and stand your ground.
Drive safely and responsibly, and enjoy your new ride!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)