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A graduate’s guide to buying a car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make better financial choices by offering you interactive financial calculators and tools, publishing original and objective content. This allows users to conduct research and compare information at no cost to help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers including, but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Money The deals that are displayed on this site are from companies that pay us. This compensation could affect how and where products appear on the site, such as for instance, the order in which they appear within the listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. This compensation, however, does have no impact on the information we provide, or the reviews you see on this site. We do not cover the vast array of companies or financial deals that could be accessible to you. Kali9/Getty Images

4 min read Published September 16, 2022

Written by Allison Martin Allison Martin Written by Allison Martin’s work began over 10 years prior to that as a digital content strategist. She’s been published in several leading financial media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews , Investopedia, Experian and Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are committed to helping readers gain the confidence to take control of their finances with precise, well-researched, and well-sourced facts that break down complicated topics into bite-sized pieces. The Bankrate promises

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who ensure everything we publish will ensure that our content is reliable, honest and trustworthy. Our loans reporters and editors are focused on the things that consumers are interested about most — various types of loans available and the most competitive rates, the best lenders, the best ways to repay debt, and more — so you’re able to be confident about making your decision to invest your money. Editorial integrity

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If you have questions about money. Bankrate has answers. Our experts have been helping you master your finances for more than four decades. We continually strive to provide our readers with the professional advice and the tools required to make it through life’s financial journey. Bankrate adheres to a strict code of conduct policy, which means you can be confident that our information is trustworthy and reliable. Our award-winning editors and reporters provide honest and trustworthy content that will help you make the best financial decisions. Our content produced by our editorial team is factual, accurate and is not influenced from our advertising. We’re honest regarding how we’re in a position to provide quality content, competitive rates, and useful tools to you , by describing how we earn our money. is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and services, or by you clicking on certain hyperlinks on our site. This compensation could affect the way, location and when products appear within listing categories, except where the law prohibits it for our mortgage, home equity and other products for home loans. Other elements, such as our own website rules and whether or not a product is available within the area you reside in or is within your self-selected credit score range can also impact the way and place products are listed on this website. Although we try to offer the most diverse selection of products, Bankrate does not include details about each financial or credit item or service. It’s your turn to walk across the stage shortly to receive your diploma, and now you’re ready to go out into the world. Buying a car may be a part of your plan if you plan to be living in a place in which public transportation isn’t the best way to get around. Before you go to the dealership to choose the ideal vehicle, conduct your own research and be preapproved for and so that you can shop with confidence. Choose the car that’s right for your lifestyle post-graduation The idea of buying the car of your dreams is thrilling. But, it is important to avoid being distracted, or you may choose a car that is in line with your preferences yet isn’t practical. What’s your commute from and to work? If it’ll be lengthy it’s a good idea limit your searches down to cars with high performance in terms of fuel efficiency particularly in light of how prices for gas are changing. It’s currently around $3.70 per gallon for regular gasoline according to AAA, which is just a bit lower than the previous months average $3.96. Yet, it’s much higher than the median price per gallon , which was $3.18 only one year ago. Visit the and use its online tool to see the annual average fuel cost for the vehicles you are contemplating. The tool lets you narrow to year, make and model, and then view suggestions for the most efficient cars. Size and accessories Are compact cars enough or do you require something more substantial, like the pickup truck or crossover? What about the features — are certain ones “must-have” on your list? If you have recently been offered a job with a good salary that you will start following graduation, you might have the latest technology and features. However, you might be better off with an affordable car the until you begin work and get more established in your job. Safety features How safe is the vehicle you’re considering? Request a copy of the vehicle’s . It also contains maintenance records. It provides information on whether the car has been involved in any collisions. Another good source is the website. You can look up safety ratings and search for recalls by entering the vehicle’s make and model, or VIN. Make a decision between used and new There is a lot to enjoy about a new car. It’s shiny, in tip-top condition and smells great. However, some aren’t as solid as the others. You can also buy an extended warranty for about $1,500 and have added peace of mind knowing you’re covered in the event that you suffer a serious mechanical breakdown. Consider the following when deciding between a used and new ride: New cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This insurance could save you a lot of money in the event that your vehicle has a breakdown and requires major repairs during the initial couple of years after you purchase it. New cars usually have modern technology. But, it is possible to get a used car with your desired features. There are some used cars that come with low mileage. So, you shouldn’t have any mechanical problems for a long time. Maintenance costs will likely be lower and you’ll get a better deal. Certain used vehicles are . These are given the manufacturer’s seal of approval after having been brought up to a set standard mechanically and have a limited factory warranty. Consider the total price of owning a car. In addition to the monthly installment for fuel, as well as insurance premiums for autos, you should also factor in maintenance and repair costs. In 2021 the average cost for repairs, maintenance and tires was 9.55 centers per mile as reported by . However, the costs differ according to the vehicle you own, but you can use the calculator to determine the amount you can expect to spend over time. The annual registration renewal costs typically range from under $20 to a little over $200 annually, is important to keep in mind. Some states assess fees in a lump sum, while others use the age of your car, its fuel efficiency or weight to calculate registration fees. Explore cars and apply for financing before going to a dealership The majority of dealerships offer financing in-house however, it’s better to get it before you start shopping for a car. You want to know what you’re able to spend, and quotes from your credit union or bank will help you decide on an amount that is feasible for you. Additionally, you’ll have more leverage . The purchase won’t be contingent on the ability of you to obtain financing from the dealer, and you’ll behave like the cash buyer. Understand the benefits of buying vs. leasing There’s a lot of debate about which option is better. There are a few advantages of both options lease payments on more recent automobiles are usually more affordable. If your eyes are set on a particular vehicle that is a bit pricey it is possible to pay for the monthly installments by leasing. You’ll get a manufacturer’s warranty in the event that you purchase a brand-new car. It typically will cover you until 36,000 miles or 3 years, which means you won’t need to worry about spending an enormous amount on repairs should a mechanical issue comes up. There are no mileage limits for buying a vehicle. However, if you choose to lease the car, you’ll be limited to anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 miles per calendar year, or you could end up paying high mileage charges. These can range between 10 cents to 25 % of a mile or more according to the conditions in the agreement. The car will be yours once the loan is paid in full. Lease agreements operate a bit differently, but. You’ll need to return the vehicle to the dealer once the lease expires unless you decide to . In the end, purchasing cars during college is among the most significant purchases you’ll make. To make sure you get the best deal, you want to do your research to find an automobile that is compatible with your lifestyle and your budget. It’s also important to obtain pre-approval for financing before you visit any dealership and evaluate the advantages of buying versus leasing to decide which is the best option. Find out more


Allison Martin’s writing started over 10 years ago as a digital content strategist, and she’s since been published in several leading financial outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews , Investopedia, Experian and The article was edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain confidence to control their finances with precise, well-studied details that cut otherwise complicated topics into digestible pieces.

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