Car Expenses 101: What to Expect as a First Time Car Owner

Buying your first car can be one of the most exciting purchases of your life, but if you don’t do your research, it’s easy to find yourself overpaying or with a low-quality car that doesn’t suit your needs. Even after you bring home your car, you might not be completely up to date on driver safety or how to care for your vehicle.

Since a car is such a valuable and important asset, it’s essential that you’re conscientious and thorough when it comes to following all local laws and regulations and keeping your car well-maintained. If you’re not sure where to get started, let’s go over some basics about being a first-time car owner.

Purchasing Your First Car


When you’re heading to the dealership to look at cars, it’s important to think carefully about what you need. What will you primarily be using your car for? Are there frequent weather conditions near you that might require a specific type of vehicle? Set a firm budget before you go and don’t let yourself get carried away. You’ll also want to consider your financing options unless you’re planning to pay for the car upfront. The dealership will often provide financing options, but you can also get approval for a loan from a third party or a bank, and see if the dealership will match or beat their terms.

Don’t be afraid to look for used vehicles either, you can save a lot of money and get a fantastic deal on cars that are in excellent working condition. Certified pre-owned (CPO) cars are used vehicles that have undergone various inspections and reconditioning. Make sure you understand what type of warranty you have and what it covers if you purchased a used car.

Understanding Your Driver’s License


Once you’re officially a vehicle owner, you have to make sure you know the rules of the road. If you already have your driver’s license, then you can start driving right away. If you haven’t received your driver’s license yet, make sure to practice in accordance with the laws and regulations in your area. As a first step, start in a parking lot before you contend with traffic. If you commit violations on the road, you’ll accrue driver’s license points. If the number of points on your license exceeds your state’s legal limit, your license can be temporarily suspended or even permanently revoked.

Severe infractions like reckless driving, evading law enforcement, and driving over 100 mph will get two points added to your driver’s license. Disobeying traffic signals, failure to stop for a school bus, illegal u-turns, and other minor traffic violations typically count for only one point. Your goal should always be to maintain zero points on your driving record.

Go over points on license system guide to review what penalties various infractions have. You can also accumulate insurance points, in accordance with ISO guidelines. Points on your insurance help set premiums by determining how much of a risk you pose as a driver. Taking a defensive driving course is a good way to reduce your insurance premiums, as many insurers offer a discount for proof that you’ve passed.

Taking Care of Your Vehicle


If you want your car to last a long time, and stay safe for you to drive, you’ll need to take good care of it. There are plenty of simple tasks you can do at home, like checking your tire pressure, polishing the car, or installing new windshield wipers. Don’t take on anything complicated on your own, you may end up damaging the car and costing yourself more money in the long run. If you notice any noises or changes in how your vehicle operates, don’t wait until the problem gets worse, get it checked out immediately.

When you purchase your vehicle, or if you have it repainted, make sure you look over the paint job. You’ll want to be cautious of overspray on cars. An uneven coating, the appearance of being covered in dust, or splotchy raindrops can all be indications of overspray. You can remove it on your own with some DIY methods, but it’s best to leave the overspray removal process to experts with years of experience. You can get a quote from any body shop or an overspray removal service. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1500 for this kind of spray job.

There’s no denying that there’s a lot to consider when you’re looking to buy a car for the first time. Purchasing the car itself requires a good deal of money saved, some smart financial planning, and plenty of research to make sure you’re getting the right vehicle for your lifestyle. Maintaining a clean driving record and taking care of your car both require time, attention, and effort from you, and it’s your responsibility to keep your driver’s license in good standing. Investing in your car will help it last longer and keep you safer on the road. As long as you’re conscientious, being a first-time car owner doesn’t mean you’ll make rookie mistakes.


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Alexandria is an interior designer and stylist blogger. Based in Los Angeles, you can typically find her grabbing brunch with friends or attending a gallery opening for a cool new artist.