First-Time Car Buyers: So You Think It's Time to Buy

By Kelsey Mays  on July 22, 2014

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It's an inevitable point we all reach. Your hand-me-down car from high school is now older than most Rihanna fans, and you'd love to stop making rent-sized payments to your auto mechanic. Or maybe you fancy yourself a proud urbanite, but the bicycle and bus pass don't exactly cut it when you land that new job in the suburbs.

Related: Quick Start Guide to Buying a Car

Either way, it's time to pony up the cash for a new — or less-used — car. Not to worry: We have you covered with dozens of stories for first-time buyers. Check them out below.

First off, if you don't know when it's time to consider a new (or newer) car, here are some signs. Can't decide whether you should buy new or used? See our primer on the advantages for buying new versus the advantages of buying used.

Used Cars
If you're shopping used, check out our top choices for $10,000, then research a few possibilities by make, model and year. Don't know how far your budget will stretch? Try our used-car values calculator. Are you willing to pay extra for a little peace of mind? Read up on certified pre-owned vehicles.

Once you decide on a few candidates, it's time to check out Cars.com's used and CPO listings and contact a few sellers. Eventually you'll have to kick some tires and take a few test drives, but don't worry — we have you covered there, too:

New Cars
If you're shopping new, consider if you want to buy or lease a car, then decide how much car you can afford with our affordability calculator. Research new models by make, model, gas mileage or price. Read our latest expert and consumer reviews, and see our editors test a whole class of cars.

Once you've narrowed down the choices, it's time to find a few prospective candidates on Cars.com, contact a few dealerships and take some test drives.

Down the Road
After you drive that shiny ride off the lot — or away from the seller's driveway — see our expert tips on how to keep your new ride in tip-top shape.

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Advice Car Buying


Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey