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Are you a first-time car buyer or helping one? Shopping for a new car is an important undertaking. It takes time and money. Selecting the right vehicle is important to your future driving happiness. 

But there are some big mistakes that first-time car buyers commonly make. Avoid these to make your first time buying a car experience an easy, positive experience.

1. What’s the total cost of ownership?

Most people just see the sticker price on that shiny car sitting there on the dealership lot. They may even try to work out monthly payment prices out in their heads. But there’s so much more to consider than that when determining the true cost of that new car. 

At the dealership, the salesperson will make sure you know about all available add-ons and trim levels. Research these carefully before agreeing to it because some of them can be quite costly.

What is insurance going to cost for the car you’re interested in? Insurance for first-time drivers is usually higher because they’re young and inexperienced.

Some vehicles come with a higher insurance premium making it important to know what the insurance rates are before you buy. High-priced luxury and sports cars, particularly those with European brands, usually cost more insurance.

Which leads to the other reason you’ll pay more insurance for a luxury car: repairs cost more. If you select a high-end Nissan, repairs for it are going to cost a lot more than repairs for a Honda Odyssey. The materials used in luxury cars are of better quality and they are normally loaded with technology.

How much will it cost to drive it? How many miles per gallon does it achieve? The U.S. Department of Energy put together a handy tool that can help you determine fuel prices in your area.

You’ll also need to factor in depreciation, fees, taxes, and financing interest rates. Knowing what the average cost of repairs is for the car you’re considering is also important. Additionally, you’ll want to know if it’s easy to maintain and what maintenance will cost.

Edmunds’ Cost of Owning a Car Calculator is a valuable resource in helping you determine how much that car you’ve got your eye on will really cost you.

2. Failure to research

Researching a car was trickier a couple of decades ago and required a bit of leg work. Today with the internet, there’s no excuse for not doing your homework before buying a new car. There are also a number of great online tools available to help you.

In doing research on a car you’re interested in, you can learn about any add-ons and packages ahead of time. If there are any rebates or incentives available, you can learn about that those too.

Most dealerships have an online shop and many of those allow you to negotiate a deal online. So if you don’t like dealing with salespeople, the opportunity for a hassle-free deal might be the way to go.

Also, be sure to check out reviews for the car you’re interested in. Do other people who’ve bought it like it? Is it problem-free? The reviews are a great way to figure out before you buy if that new car is everything you hoped it would be. If the reviews consistently mention specific problems with the car, you may want to make another choice.

3. Limiting yourself to one dealership

Always shop around. If you take a look at three dealerships or more, you stand a better chance of finding a great deal. Again, thanks to the internet, you don’t have to go to each dealership in person. Visit the dealership websites to take a look at what they have in stock. Most sites will have a quote-request system you can use from the comfort of your home.

Compare offers from different dealerships. When you’ve made your decision, don’t burn your bridges. Let the other dealerships know you’re still considering their offers. Do a little homework on the dealerships as well. It’s not just about the money. Your experience with the dealer should be a good one with quality service.

When it comes to bigger investments like buying a car, you want to be proactive and learn all you can. With the right knowledge, you have a better chance of finding the right vehicle for you and your family. You can get a great deal too.