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4 min read . Published 16 September 2022

Written by Allison Martin Written by Allison Martin’s work began over 10 years ago as a digital content strategist, and she’s since been featured in a variety of top financial outlets, 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 from late 2021. They are dedicated to helping their readers to take control of their finances through providing clear, well-researched information that breaks down complex topics into manageable bites. The Bankrate promise

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Therefore, this compensation may influence the manner, place and in what order the products are listed within categories, with the exception of those the law prohibits it for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. Other elements, such as our own rules for our website and whether or not a product is offered in the area you reside in or is within your own personal credit score may also influence how and where products appear on this website. We strive to provide the most diverse selection of products, Bankrate does not include information about each financial or credit item or service. You’ll be walking across the stage shortly to be awarded your diploma and now it’s time to enter the real world. Buying a car may be part of the plan if you’re planning to be living in a place in which public transportation isn’t the most effective method to travel. But before you head to the dealer to pick out the perfect car, you should do some research and be preapproved for the purchase so that you shop with confidence. Pick the right car for your lifestyle post-graduation The prospect of owning your own car is exciting. However, you must avoid being distracted, or you may choose a car that is in line with your preferences however isn’t practical. What’s your commute to and from work? If it’ll be lengthy, you may want limit your searches to cars that have good performance in terms of fuel efficiency — especially with how prices for gas are changing. At present, it’s around $3.70 to the gallon in regular fuel, according to AAA, which is less than the last month’s median of $3.96. Yet, it’s significantly higher than the average cost for a gallon that was $3.18 only one year earlier. Use the online tool to view the average annual fuel costs for any vehicle you’re considering. You can narrow your search down by year, make and model, and then view some suggestions for the fuel-efficient cars. Size and accessories Can a small car be sufficient for you, or do you require something larger, such as a crossover or pickup truck? What about the features — are there certain features that are “must-have” on your list? If you’ve recently secured an employment with a high salary that you will start following graduation, you might have the latest technology and features. However, you might prefer a smaller ride without all the features until you start working and get more established in your job. Safety features How secure is the vehicle you’re considering? Request a copy of the car’s . It includes maintenance records and provides information on whether the car was involved in any accident. Another good source is the website. You can search safety ratings and check whether recalls have occurred by typing in the vehicle’s model and model or VIN. Decide between new and used There is a lot to love about a new car. It’s shiny, in tip-top condition and smells great. But the reality is some aren’t as trustworthy. You can also purchase an extended warranty for around $1500. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing you’re protected in the event that you suffer a serious mechanical failure. Take note of the following when making a decision between a brand new or used vehicle: New vehicles have a manufacturer’s warranty. This insurance could save you lots of money if your car breaks down and needs major repairs within the first couple of years after you purchase it. New cars typically have modern technology. However, you may get a used car with your desired features. Some used cars can have low mileage. This means that if you don’t encounter any mechanical problems for a long time. Maintenance costs will likely be lower , and you’ll get a better deal. Certain used cars are . These are given the manufacturer’s seal of acceptance after being upgraded to a standard mechanically and have an limited warranty from the factory. Think about the whole cost of ownership of a vehicle. Besides the monthly payment for fuel, as well as insurance premiums for autos You should also factor in maintenance and repair costs. In 2021, the average expense for maintenance, repairs and tires was 9.55 cents per mile as reported by . The costs can vary by vehicle, but you can use the to get an idea of the amount you can expect to spend over time. The annual registration renewal costs, which generally vary from less than $20 to just over $200, is important to keep in mind. Certain states have fees in a lump sum for registration, while other states use your vehicle’s age, fuel efficiency or weight to determine registration fees. Research cars and get financed prior to visiting a dealer. The majority of dealerships offer financing in-house, but it’s wiser to before you start shopping for a car. You want to be aware of what you’re able to spend, and quotes from your bank or credit union can help you determine a purchase price that works. There’s also more leverage . The sale won’t be contingent upon your ability to secure financing through the dealership, and you’ll behave like an actual cash buyer. Learn the advantages of buying instead of. leasing There’s plenty of chatter around and what is the best option. Here are some benefits of both options to consider: Lease payments on newer cars are typically more affordable. If you have your sights set on a certain car that’s a bit expensive and you’re not sure if you’ll be able to pay for the monthly installments by leasing. You’ll receive a manufacturer’s guarantee in the event that you purchase a new vehicle. It usually covers you until 36,000 miles or three years, so you won’t need to worry about spending a fortune on repairs if an issue with your vehicle arises. There are no mileage limits when you purchase a car. But if you decide to lease, you will be limited to anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year or you could end up paying high mileage charges. The fees can range from 10 cents and 25 cents per mile or more, subject to the terms of the lease agreement. The car is yours after the loan is fully paid. Lease agreements operate differently, though. You’ll have to return the car to the dealer once the lease is over unless you opt to . In the end, purchasing cars during college is among the biggest purchases you will make. To ensure that you are getting the best deal, you want to do your homework to find a ride that complements both your lifestyle and your budget. It’s also important to get preapproved to finance your purchase prior to visiting any dealerships and weigh the benefits of buying versus leasing to decide which is the best option. Learn more


Written by Allison Martin’s work began more than 10 years ago as an online content strategist and she’s since been published in a variety of top financial publications, 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 editing and writing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain the confidence to control their finances through providing clear, well-researched facts that break down complex topics into manageable bites.

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