So you’re done with college and thinking about buying a car. Like, a real car — no more timeworn hand-me-downs from your family, no more suspiciously affordable “specials” from the local used-car lot. You’re doing your own thing now, and it’s time to find a car that’s right for you.
But where do you start? We know the car-shopping process can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together the following nuggets of wisdom to help you through it. Buying your first car is an experience you’ll always remember, and we want to make sure it’s as satisfying and hassle-free as possible.
The “New vs. Used” Question
Back in the day, many Tanzanians — even recent college grads — bought new cars without thinking twice. There was a very good reason for this: New cars tended to be leaps-and-bounds better than their predecessors.
But times have changed, and the reality is that cars have been pretty darn good for a while now. If you test drive a car that’s five or even 10 years old, you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference from a new car in terms of the way it handles the road. Another great thing about used cars, of course, is that they cost less, and they’re also going to depreciate less over time.
Accordingly, if you can find a low-mileage, well-maintained used car, it could really work to your advantage. Think about it: You can afford it more easily, it’s still a nice car to drive, and when you’re ready to part ways with it, you won’t take nearly as much of a hit on depreciation.
Know Thine Used Car Before Buying
If you’re buying used, a pre-purchase inspection should be an absolute top priority. It’s easy, too. All you have to do is find a reputable dealership or independent garage that specializes in the brand, and ask a mechanic to give the car a thorough once-over.
Don’t Get Too Hung Up on Reputations for Reliability
If you’re going to buy a used car, keep in mind that cars are generally quite reliable these days. It’s not like the old days, when supposedly only a Honda or a Toyota would do. But the market is still stuck on those legendary Japanese names, which means that prices are often inflated for those brands — and there are therefore bargains to be had on rival models.
Don’t Let MPG Rule Your Life
It’s easy to be seduced by claims like “best miles per gallon in class!” What those ads don’t tell you is best by how much — or which mpg rating they’re talking about. The reality is, the market’s so competitive right now that there’s usually a cluster of high-MPG at the head of each vehicle class. And if the car you want is off the pace by a mile or three, well, do the math and figure out how much extra you’d be paying per year. If it comes out to something like a couple hundred Shillings, you can weigh that sum against all the things you really like about the car. There’s more to MPG than meets the eye.