A graduate’s guide to buying a car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our mission is to help you make better financial choices by providing you with interactive financial calculators and tools as well as publishing high-quality and impartial content. We also allow you to conduct research and compare information at no cost and help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not restricted to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn money The products that appear on this site are from companies that compensate us. This compensation could affect how and where products appear on the site, such as for instance, the order in which they may be listed within the categories of listing in the event that they are not permitted by law for our loan products, such as mortgages and home equity and other home loan products. But this compensation does have no impact on the information we provide, or the reviews you read on this site. We do not cover the universe of companies or financial offers that may be accessible to you. Kali9/Getty Image

4 minutes read. Published September 16, 2022

Written by Allison Martin Written by Allison Martin’s work started over 10 years ago as a digital media strategist, and she’s since been featured in a variety of top financial media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews , Investopedia, Experian and Credit.com. Edited 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 feel confident to manage their finances with concise, well-researched and well-written information that breaks down complex topics into manageable bites. The Bankrate guarantee

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We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and services, or by you clicking on specific links on our site. Therefore, this compensation may affect the way, location and in what order the products are listed within categories, unless the law prohibits it regarding our mortgages, home equity, and other home lending products. Other factors, like our own website rules and whether or not a product is available within the area you reside in or is within your own personal credit score could also affect how and where products appear on this website. While we strive to provide the most diverse selection of products, Bankrate does not include details about each financial or credit item or service. You’ll be walking across the stage shortly to be awarded your diploma and now you’re ready to enter the real world. The purchase of a car could be part of the plan if you plan to reside in an area in which public transportation isn’t the best way to get around. However, before heading to the dealership to choose the ideal ride, do your research and get preapproved for the purchase so that you shop with confidence. Select the vehicle that is suitable for your lifestyle post-graduation The prospect of owning your own vehicle is thrilling. But you should be careful not to being distracted, or you might choose a car that fits your style but isn’t practical. The commute How long will your commute from and to work? If your commute is long it’s a good idea to narrow your search down to cars with high fuel economy ratings and especially considering how gas prices are trending. It’s currently around $3.70 to the gallon in regular fuel, according to AAA that’s less than the last month’s average of $3.96. However, this is significantly higher than the median price per gallon , which was $3.18 only one year earlier. Use the online tool to view the annual average fuel cost for any vehicle you’re thinking about. You can narrow your search down by year, make and model, and then view some suggestions for the fuel-efficient vehicles. Size and accessories Will a compact car suffice or do you require something larger, such as the pickup truck or crossover? What about the features — are certain ones “must-have” in your list? If you recently landed an employment with a high starting salary soon after graduating, you may have access to the most recent technology and features. But, you may be better off with an affordable car the hassles until you get started and get more established in your job. Safety features How safe is the vehicle you’re looking at? Request an official copy of the vehicle’s . It also contains maintenance records. It provides information on whether the car was involved in any accident. It is a good reference. You can search safety ratings and look on recalls using the car’s make and model or VIN. Make a decision between used and new There is a lot to enjoy about a new vehicle. It’s shiny, in tip-top condition and smells great. However, some aren’t as trustworthy. Plus, you could purchase an extended warranty for about $1500, and get assurance that you’re protected in the event that you suffer a serious mechanical malfunction. Take note of the following when making a decision between a brand new or used ride: New cars are covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee. This warranty can save you a significant amount of money if your car has a breakdown and requires major repairs in the initial several years that you own it. New cars typically have the latest technology. However, you may find a slightly used car that has the features you desire. Certain used cars may be low-mileage. This means that if you don’t encounter numerous mechanical issues over time. The maintenance cost are likely to be less and you’ll be able to get a better price. Certain used vehicles are . They are issued the manufacturer’s seal of acceptance after having been brought up to a standard mechanically and have an limited warranty from the factory. Take a look at the entire cost of car ownership Beyond the monthly installment for fuel, as well as auto insurance premiums You should also factor in maintenance and repair costs. In 2021, the median cost for repairs, maintenance and tires was around 9.55 center per mile, according to . Still, these costs vary by vehicle, but you can use the to determine the amount you can expect to pay over the course of. Annual registration renewal expenses, which generally vary from less than $20 to just over $200, is important to be aware of. Certain states charge fees in a lump sum and others rely on the vehicle’s age, energy efficiency, or weight to calculate fees for registration. Explore cars and apply for financing prior to visiting a dealer. The majority of dealerships offer financing in-house however, it’s better to get it prior to shopping for an automobile. You should know the amount you’re able to afford and also get quotes from your credit union or bank can help you determine a purchase price that works. Additionally, you’ll have more leverage when . The purchase won’t be contingent on the ability of you to obtain financing from the dealer, and you’ll behave like the cash buyer. Learn the advantages of buying vs. leasing There’s plenty of discussion about what is the best option. Here are some benefits of both options The lease payment on the latest automobiles are usually less expensive. If your eyes are set on a particular vehicle which is expensive it is possible to pay for the monthly installments by leasing. You’ll get a manufacturer’s warranty in the event that you purchase a new car. It typically will cover you for up to 36,000 miles, or three years, which means you won’t have to worry about spending a fortune on repairs if a mechanical issue comes up. There aren’t any mileage limitations when you purchase a car. If you opt to lease, you will be limited to anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year or be at risk of accruing excessive mileage fees. The fees can range from 10 cents to $25 cents for each mile, or more, depending on the conditions in the agreement. The car will be yours once the loan is paid in full. Lease agreements operate differently, however. You’ll need to return the vehicle to the dealer after the lease ends unless you choose to . The next step is to buy cars during college is among the largest purchases you’ll make. To ensure that you are getting the best deal it is important to conduct the necessary research to locate an automobile that is compatible with your lifestyle and your budget. It’s also crucial to be preapproved to finance your purchase prior to visiting any dealership and evaluate the advantages of buying versus leasing to decide which option is best. Find out more


Written by Allison Martin’s work began more than 10 years ago as a digital content strategist, and since then she’s been published in several leading financial outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews , Investopedia, Experian and Credit.com. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain the confidence to take control of their finances through providing concise, well-studied and well-informed information that breaks down otherwise complex subjects into bite-sized pieces.

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