Today’s post comes from Sacha, a fellow writer who fell into a car buying trap. She details her experience and things she was pressured into thinking was the right decision. Read on for her story.
I started the process of trying to get my own car in 2013, despite having no money to put down on a car. I was only eighteen at the time, had no credit history, no one to co-sign for me, and made $7.25 an hour.
My mom and other family members insisted that it shouldn’t be a problem since I don’t have bad credit history and have a job. I was given advice like “tell them you don’t want to put anything down” and “tell them you only want to pay x amount a month.” But without the proper tools to make these demands, you can guess how that went. I finally ended up getting my car this past July, a few short months after I turned 21.
I was very excited at first. Having the freedom to go where you want, when you want, and not have to rely on others to be on time or hope they’ll be able to show up is a great feeling. Because I spent some time paying off my loans and building my credit, I scored a pretty great monthly payment and low interest rate.
Unfortunately, that’s where all the pros end. The advice I was given led me to buy a car I wasn’t ready for. It started with people telling me how easy it is to get a car but continued throughout the process.
“Now you can take yourself places!”
This is true, but the part that is forgotten, admittedly by me, is that gas prices are still high. So, even though you have the means to go places, your gas tank may be crying along with your bank account. After the second time I just barely made it home, it was time to re-adjust my budget to fit my car payment and gas money so I wasn’t pulling a Bon Jovi and living on a prayer.
I found giving myself a set amount for gas money was easier than calculating it out to the exact dollar I’d need to fill my tank, mostly because I didn’t drive a lot but just had a long commute. This small change ended up saving me in the long run. I always knew how much I was going to have for gas and that it would be enough to get me at least half tank.
“Jeeps have the cheapest parts to replace.”
This was probably the worst offender and I don’t know what compelled me to believe this.
Jeep parts and any other car are worth about the same. It’s all dependent on how much it cost to get the part here and if it’s 2WD or 4WD. Off roading vehicles generally cost more to replace parts because they need to be made differently to support the type of vehicle, while others are a little less expensive because they’re made for different terrains.
My advice for repairs is to shop around and find a mechanic or auto shop that will give you what you want but at a reasonable price. You can usually Google what the average for your car is and how much other people pay for it. If you’re lucky your auto dealer will have a setup with a mechanic and you can get a discount.
“You’ll love owning a car.”
Owning a car has been the second worst experience of my life with a car, the first being the time my dad almost ran us off a bridge.
At first it was alright but when the novelty wears off and everything else builds up, you start to feel a hint of regret. At least I do. There are a lot of factors to consider and a lot more budgeting for unexpected expenses.
For instance, someone tried to break into my car a couple weeks ago and completely destroyed the mechanics that keep my back window working. To replace it all and fix the damages was $300, so thankfully the window itself didn’t break.
I also found out when I moved that tires wear down faster in higher population areas than smaller ones. That means I need to replace them more often.
My advice to anyone buying a car for the first time or looking to get a new one is, make sure you plan ahead. I did not and even though my finances have leveled out quite a bit, I still get stressed out when it comes to taking care of my car. The other day I finally took it to the car wash and that says a lot.
Also, do your research. I did beforehand and it helped me a lot when shopping for the car I wanted but I didn’t even think to look into things like replacing parts or knowing how often you’re supposed to change your oil or rotate my tires.
I hope you learn from my experience.
Sacha is an aspiring writer, currently feeling the struggle as she shamelessly promotes herself across the internet. She is in love with birds, big dogs that think they’re lap dogs, and all things science. You can usually find her napping or raiding the fridge. Connect with her on Twitter @staycheesyx.