I've owned several cars since I turned sixteen and boy have I learned alot over the years about car shopping. First off I learned that you need to do research at home BEFORE heading into a dealership for the first time. There's nothing worse than walking onto a lot and the salesperson asking you what you're looking for and having no response for them other than "a car". I honestly had no idea when I went car shopping on my own for the first time that there were so many different styles of cars out there, let alone all the options for each model. A great place to do a little at home research is Cars.com. The Cars.com website has a ton of information that will provide you with everything you could ever want, or need to know before making your purchase. They have sections you can use to research individual cars and even do a side by side car comparison. This is nice if you've narrowed it down to two different car models. They also have a section for first time car buyers. Man do I wish I had access to that sort of information all those years ago. And that's just the tip of the information iceberg.
Next I learned that you should visit more than one dealership when looking for a car. Just because the first one you visit may have what you are looking for (or at least think it's what you're looking for) doesn't mean you should stop looking. You never know if there's a better option, or a better deal out there if you stop looking after one dealership. By using the Cars.com website if you know what specific brand or model you're looking for you can find all of the dealerships within a certain radius to your location. Boy are there a lot more dealerships out there than I ever imagined. If you're like me and many others you're probably used to only thinking of the big brand names of cars when it comes to looking for car dealerships. But there are many others out there that are just as good and may offer even better deals than those are willing to offer. This is especially true when it comes to used cars. Many times the smaller lots just want to get those cars sold so they have room for the next ones coming in so they are more willing to work with you.
And finally over the years I've learned that finding the car that's a good fit for you and your current life situation is a must. That means not going for that sporty looking two-seater when you've got a baby on the way. My husband and I actually learned this one the hard way. We started out with a two-door SUV and man let me tell you it was a pain putting my son's car seat in and out of the back seat through that narrowed opening. We did finally end up trading it in for a four-door version of the same SUV, but in the end we lost all those car payments we had already made. I urge you if you're looking for a car whether it be your first, second, third, or even your tenth that you really put some time and thought into it. Don't settle on a car if you're not absolutely certain it's the right one for you. Do your research and visit multiple car dealerships first. Then make your investment that will be a good fit now and years down the road.