A graduate’s guide to buying a car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by offering you interactive tools and financial calculators that provide objective and original content. We also allow you to conduct research and compare data for free to help you make sound financial decisions. Bankrate has agreements with issuers including, but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make money The products that appear on this website are provided by companies that pay us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including for instance, the order in which they may appear within the listing categories and other categories, unless prohibited by law. This applies to our mortgage, home equity and other products for home loans. But this compensation does not influence the information we publish, or the reviews that you read on this site. We do not cover the entire universe of businesses or financial deals that could be open to you. kali9/Getty Images
4 min read Published 16 September 2022
Written by Allison Martin Written by Allison Martin’s work started over 10 years prior to that as a digital content strategist, and she’s since been featured in a variety of top financial publications, including The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews , Investopedia, Experian and Credit.com. Editor: Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers feel confident to take control of their finances through providing clear, well-researched information that breaks down otherwise complicated topics into bite-sized pieces. The Bankrate promise
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We are compensated in exchange for the placement of sponsored products and services or when you click on certain hyperlinks on our website. This compensation could influence the manner, place and in what order products appear within listing categories, unless it is prohibited by law regarding our mortgages, home equity, and other home lending products. Other elements, such as our own website rules and whether the product is offered in the area you reside in or is within your personal credit score can also impact how and where products appear on this website. Although we try to offer a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include details about each financial or credit item or service. You’ll be walking across the stage soon to receive your diploma, and now it’s time to enter the real world. The purchase of a car could be a part of your plan if you plan to reside in an area where public transportation isn’t the most effective method to travel. Before you go to the dealership to select the ideal car, you should do some research and obtain preapproved the purchase so that you make an informed decision. Select the vehicle that is suitable for you post-graduation. The idea of buying your own vehicle is thrilling. But you should be careful not to being distracted, or you may choose a car that suits your taste however isn’t practical. What’s your commute from and to work? If your commute is long, you may want limit your searches down to cars that have good efficiency ratings in terms of fuel consumption — especially with how gas prices are trending. At present, it’s around $3.70 per gallon for regular gasoline according to AAA, which is just a bit lower than the previous month’s average of $3.96. Yet, it’s significantly higher than the median price for a gallon that was $3.18 just one year ago. Visit the and use its online tool to check the average annual fuel costs for the vehicles you are contemplating. The tool lets you narrow down by year, make and model, or view recommendations for the most fuel-efficient cars. Size and add-ons Are compact cars enough or do you require something more substantial, like the pickup truck or crossover? What about the features — are certain ones a “must-have” on your list? If you recently landed an opportunity with a decent starting salary soon after graduating, you may have the latest technologies and features. Still, you could be better off with smaller vehicle without all the features until you start working and establish your job. Safety features How safe is the vehicle you’re looking at? Request an official copy of the vehicle’s . It contains maintenance records and provides information on whether the car was involved in any collisions. It is a good reference. You can look up safety ratings and search on recalls using the vehicle’s make and model or VIN. Choose between used and new There’s a lot to appreciate about a brand new vehicle. It’s shiny, in top form and smells delicious. However, there are some that are as trustworthy. Plus, you could purchase an extended warranty for around $1500, and get peace of mind knowing you’re covered in the event of a major mechanical malfunction. Take note of the following when making a decision between a new and used vehicle: New vehicles come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This insurance could save you a lot of money in the event that your vehicle is damaged and requires major repairs during the first couple of years after you purchase it. New cars usually have modern technology. But, it is possible to find a slightly used vehicle with the features you want. Some used cars can have low mileage. Therefore, if you don’t experience numerous mechanical issues over time. The maintenance cost will likely be lower , and you’ll be able to get a better price. Some used cars are . They are issued the manufacturer’s seal of acceptance after being brought up to a set standard mechanically , and come with a limited factory warranty. Take a look at the entire cost of ownership of a vehicle. Besides the monthly installment for fuel, as well as insurance premiums for automobiles, you should also factor the cost of maintenance and repairs. In 2021 the average cost of maintenance, repairs and tires was around 9.55 cents per mile as reported by . Still, these costs vary according to the vehicle you own and you can utilize the calculator to determine the amount you can expect to pay over the course of. The cost of annual registration renewals that typically vary from less than $20 to a little over $200, is important to consider. Certain states charge fees in a lump sum, while others use your vehicle’s age, fuel efficiency or weight in calculating fees for registration. Explore cars and apply for financing before going to a dealership Many dealerships provide in-house financing however it is better to do this before you start shopping for an automobile. You should have a concrete idea of the amount you’re able to afford and also get quotes from your credit union or bank will help you decide on an amount that is feasible for you. Additionally, you’ll have more leverage . The deal won’t depend on your ability to get financing from the dealer, and you’ll behave like a cash buyer. Learn the advantages of buying vs. leasing. There’s a lot of chatter around and which option is better. There are a few advantages of both options The lease payment on the latest cars are typically less expensive. If you have your sights set on a specific car that is a bit pricey, you may be able to pay for the monthly installments by leasing. You’ll receive a manufacturer’s guarantee for leases of a new vehicle. It typically covers you for up to 36,000 miles or 3 years, which means you won’t need to worry about spending a fortune on repairs if an issue with your vehicle arises. There are no mileage limits if you buy a car. If you opt to lease the car, you’ll be restricted to a range of 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year , or be at risk of accruing high mileage charges. The fees can range from 10 cents and $25 cents for each mile or more, subject to the terms in the agreement. The car is yours after the loan is paid in full. Lease agreements operate differently, but. You’ll have to return the car to the dealer once the lease is over unless you opt to . Next steps Ultimately, buying an automobile at college is one of the biggest purchases you will make. To make sure that you are getting the best deal, you want to do your research to find a ride that complements both your lifestyle and your budget. It’s also crucial to be preapproved for financing before you visit any dealership and weigh the benefits of buying or leasing to determine which is the best option. Find out more
Allison Martin’s work began more than 10 years ago when she was a digital content strategist and she’s since been featured in various top financial media which include The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews , Investopedia, Experian and Credit.com. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain the confidence to manage their finances by providing precise, well-studied information that breaks down otherwise complicated topics into digestible pieces.
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