Your first car is your first taste of independence. It allows you to come and go as you please from campus to work or home. And you can take your friends with you to restaurants and activities. But, it can be difficult as a first-time car buyer, especially if you do not have as much knowledge as other people.

When you are looking for used cars in the Western Cape and surrounds, it is best to go into the process with as much information as possible. For example, you will need to know what a credit score is and why it matters and you will need to know what your budget is for the second-hand cars available in the Western Cape. Not sure where to start? Read on below for everything you need to know before buying a car.

Do your research online

Previously, shopping for cars involved walking around the showrooms of car dealerships in the Western Cape. And while this is still useful today, a salesperson cannot give you an unbiased picture of the car that you have your eye on. They are trained to sell, and sell they will.

You will find reviews, complaints and queries online which will give you a bigger and better picture of the car. This information will help you to choose a car when applying for car finance or make a decision if you have already found one or two that you like. It is important to go to the physical dealership to test drive and inspect the car, but you should only go once you have done enough research.

Know what a credit score is…

… and what your credit score is. This might sound confusing at first, but a credit score is a number calculated by adding together all the numerical details on your credit record. It is a summary of all of your financial decisions and is used by lenders to assess whether you are a high-risk client or not.

Ideally, you should aim to have a credit score of 680 to 800 points if you would like to take out finance for one of the used cars for sale in the Western Cape. This means that you are not a high risk and will repay all monthly contributions. Knowing your credit score will allow you to question any discrepancies you might spot on the report before the bank has done their check.

A car has running costs

Many people, when looking at cars for sale in the Western Cape and surrounds, forget about the fact that a car has ongoing costs involved. For example, you have to budget for regular filling up of your petrol tank and you need to have money put aside for any maintenance that might need to be done.

Another important cost that you have to consider is the insurance for your vehicle. This will contribute to your monthly repayments, as will a service plan and any other fees that you signed up for. When you create your budget, do not only look at the price tag of the car, but also add in these additional amounts so you have a full picture of how much you will be spending each month.

Always opt for a test drive

You might think that foregoing a test drive is fine if you already know the make and model of the car, but it is always a smart idea to take it for a test drive. It will allow you to get a feel for the car and ascertain if there are any issues, such as bad wheel alignment or a noisy engine.

If you do not test drive a car before buying it, you might have issues after the fact. And this will mean that you have spent money on a car that does not work well. When you go for the test drive, try to bring along a mechanically minded friend who can listen out for any noises or feel for any issues while you are driving. Ask the car dealers about any issues the car has and listen out for these when you drive.

Ask for service and repair history

Knowing the history of your dream sporty convertible can go a long way in deciding if it is the best fit for you. For example, you will need to know if there has been any major damage to the body of the car.

This will affect how much maintenance it will need in the future and could affect the resale value of the car when you decide to sell it. All dealerships have records and histories for the cars that they sell, and you can easily access these when you are car shopping.

Or you can request to see the history of a specific vehicle you are interested in before you even discuss a purchase contract. Be sure to ask for advice on any terms you do not understand so that you are not left in the dark about the car you have fallen in love with.