Poquet Auto Blog

What to expect when buying your first car Updated

Posted by Poquet Auto on Feb 19, 2021 12:33:18 PM

There are many big purchases that we experience once we become adults. Outside of buying your first home, owning your first car is an exciting, and major, purchase in your life.


For first time car buyers, there can be a good amount of unknowns when starting to look for the right car. There’s a lot of planning you can do to help make the car buying process easier and ensure that you drive away with the best car for you. Knowing how to buy a car with these tips can help you understand the car buying process and can get you on the road with your very first car purchase.

Make a realistic budget and stick to it

It’s important that you set a budget on the amount you are comfortable spending on a car before you actually start looking since the budget you set on a car purchase will end up helping you determine which car you get. As a general guideline, your car payment should be around 10% or less of your gross monthly income. This will help make sure that you have enough money in your budget to cover the rest of your bills, payments, and unexpected costs you may experience day-to-day.

Know your car buying terms

Once you have decided on your car, you are more than likely going to find yourself going to car dealerships and speaking with a salesperson. The unfamiliar terminology used can be one of the main things that make buying a car so stressful for many people since the terminology may sound like a foreign language. Even though car buying experiences can vary, there are many common terms that first-time car buyers should be knowledgeable of.


This “Certificate Of Ownership” is a paper document presented by the state government that records all specific car identifying information. The make, model, year, VIN, odometer reading, owner’s name, and address will be shown throughout the car title paperwork.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

This is a disclosure of all costs like interest rate, loan fees, and discount rates involved with a car loan to show the actual percentage paid every year.


This is the length of a monetary lease or loan that is repaid in regular payments over a set period of time. Term loans usually last between one and ten years but may last as long as 30 years in some cases

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Also is known as the “sticker” price which is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car. A dealer uses the MSRP as a price to sell

Pre-Qualify (Pre-Approval)

A lender will confirm you are eligible for a loan before you commit to accepting it. This will include items such as the amount of money you can borrow, the interest rate and loan term to finance the purchase of a car

Up-Front Costs

The total of all costs that must be paid at the signing of the contract; the down payment, if included, plus any additional fees that are set and agreed upon.

Know your needs vs. wants

As a first-time car buyer, you want to make sure that it's the car you really want to be driving and spending a lot of money on. As of 2019, the average age of cars on the road is over 11 years old. Car Technology has changed significantly in the last decade, so many of the features of cars may be unfamiliar. Things such as drive rearview cameras, brake and park assist, and Bluetooth capabilities weren't around just a few years ago.

Deciding what features you want in your car can be one of the more exciting parts when going through the buying process, but what you actually need in your car should be just as important. You can start by creating a "must-have" and "nice-to-have" list. Maybe you have a 45-minute commute to work and don’t want to frequent the gas pumps as much, considering a vehicle with excellent gas mileage for your long commute can be considered a “must-have.” Do you love listening to music and want a Bluetooth compatible navigation system with high-quality speakers? Something this specific may not be in every car you are looking at and can be considered a “nice-to-have” when making your decision.

Test drive every car

It’s important to take every car you are interested in for a test drive as this is potentially the car you will be driving for the near future. While driving the car, pay attention to things like unusual sounds, how the vehicle feels as it's speeding up, how the brakes react when decreasing your speed, and even how comfortable the seats feel. Consider mimicking your daily commute. If most of your commute is on the highway, then take the car on the highway and see how drives and feels. If there is a bumpy road or railroad track nearby, safely drive over it to check how it rides and if there any unusual sounds.

But before hopping in the driver seat and taking off, look into additional tests you can do to make sure that there are no defects to be aware of. Take a walk around the car and check for scratches, rust, missing pieces, etc. Check the technology like pairing your phone with the car's Bluetooth features.  Look at the fuel economy and if the car takes premium gas or needs special maintenance. All of these checks can be done before the test drive and can be red flags as to potential car problems you may experience down the road.

additional costs of owning a car

Unless you buy a car in cash, you will more than likely have to take out a loan. The interest rate of the loan will be determined by your credit score, the type of car, and the terms of the loan. To save on financing charges, save up for a large down payment and shop around for the best rate. Car insurance coverage will help you If you get into an accident as you may be left with thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses. Luckily, you can find the ideal plan for your budget and particular needs. Once you are ready to buy the car and start driving, you can’t legally drive your new car unless it’s registered in your name. This additional cost will cover registration, license plates and required title documents that a car dealership will go over with you.

No matter if you've been planning to purchase a new vehicle or need one in a pinch, every day at Poquet Auto is a great day to get a great price on a vehicle. As the leading pre-owned car dealer in the Twin Cities, you’re sure to have a great experience when you visit Poquet. From the moment you step in the door, our professional staff will help you find the best vehicle, no matter the make, model, or the price you’re looking for.

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