What an exciting time! You are finally ready to purchase your very own vehicle! Congratulations. All that hard work, studying, permit and road testing, and dreaming about this day are finally paying off. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as walking onto a lot and driving away in a new vehicle. If you’re going to be a car owner, you need to be a responsible car owner.
Far too many people jump the gun and become vehicle owners before they’re actually ready for that kind of responsibility. You need to do plenty of research beforehand, educate yourself on what it means to be a responsible vehicle owner, know what it actually takes to drive safely out on the roads, and what you should do if you end up getting into a car accident.
Hopefully this guide will help you become a responsible vehicle owner for the rest of your life!
Car Buying and Shopping
We can expect to see some 2.8 billion vehicles on the planet in 2036. Clearly, there are plenty of vehicles out there. Because of this, the vehicle buying process can be quite overwhelming. There are so many options out there, so many websites, so many dealers, and so many salespeople who are just trying to make a quick buck. It truly is stressful. Take a deep breath. You’re going to be okay. As long as you know what you’re doing and know what to avoid, you should be able to navigate the car buying, shopping, and researching process.
Here are some of the most common mistakes made by people when shopping and buying a new vehicle:
- Not doing your homework — Before making any major purchasing decisions, you need to do plenty of homework. Though it can be stressful if you’re on a race against time, if you give yourself plenty of time, this kind of homework can actually be fun. First, decide what type of vehicle you want. Let your mind wander for a day or two and imagine yourself driving that million-dollar sports car. Then, start thinking a little more realistically. Do you want a van? A truck? A used car? A new car? These are all things you have to determine before you even walk into a dealership.
- Skipping the test drive — You should always test drive a vehicle before making a purchase. You’re going to be driving this car, van, truck, etc. for years — so it’s imperative that you feel comfortable in it, can safely operate it, and actually enjoy driving it. If not, it’s just not worth it. Even if you’re getting a great deal, if the car doesn’t run well, it’s not worth it and you should continue looking elsewhere.
- Letting features make your decision for you — In a perfect world, you could drop any amount of money on the nicest, fanciest, newest vehicle and not even worry about it. But that just isn’t the case for most people. There are plenty of really awesome features in new and used vehicles today — but they shouldn’t make your decisions for you. You need to decide what kind of vehicle you are going to buy and stick to a strict budget. If you can afford to stay under budget and add a few cool new features — go for it! If not, don’t worry about all those bells and whistles.
- Buying too quickly — Though these are overwhelming and stressful decisions, they should not be made with haste. Aside from a house, buying a vehicle is the most important purchase of your adult life — so you need to take your time and make sure you’re making the right, smart, and responsible choice. Don’t let a pushy salesperson push you into a corner and sign all that money away on a vehicle you’re not in love with. Instead, politely let them know you’re going to consider their offer but continue to shop until you feel comfortable with your decision. The good ones will respect that.
- Trading in your old vehicle — This is a crucial mistake that will just about always end up causing you to lose money. Rather than trading your old car, consider selling it by yourself or even selling it to another dealer. Trading in your old car gives the dealership another way to profit on your convenience, and a chance to finagle the fine print of your new auto purchase.
General Auto Maintenance
Even experienced car owners skimp out on this crucial aspect. If you think about it, it’s actually quite simple: if you take care of your vehicle, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money and will keep your vehicle for much longer. Conversely, if you do not take care of your vehicle, you’ll end up having to spend way more money each year on major repairs instead of quick fixes. And you’ll end up running your vehicle into the ground in a few short years rather than the 10, 15, or 20 years you’d otherwise get. You have to be smart when it comes to general auto maintenance.
First, remember that the eye test goes a long way. Every single morning, you should give your vehicle a quick glance. Hopefully your car looks nice and you enjoy this — but even if you don’t — you must! Take a look at all four tires and make sure they all are adequately filled with air. Additionally, look around your car’s exterior for dings, dents, and scratches. And if you find anything wrong with it, get it taken care of right away. The worst thing you can do when it comes to auto damage is to ignore it. This will end up costing you a lot more over the long run.
Don’t forget about your car windshield, either! Even a tiny crack in your windshield can lead to catastrophic problems out on the road. What begins as a small chip or crack can lead to a completely shattered windshield if you don’t get it taken care of quick enough. Even replacing your windshield fully will end up saving you money if you think about how much you’ll end up spending on additional damages sustained from an actual crash. If you notice any small cracks or chips in your windshield, get them fixed as soon as possible.
Unfortunatley, car accidents happen all the time out on the U.S. roadways. And even if you’re the most responsible, safest, and careful driver in the history of vehicle ownership, you could still be struck by another driver at any point. However, it’s imperative that you do everything in your power to limit these accidents
Start by driving as slow as possible without being reckless. We’ve all heard that it’s “okay” to go 8 to 12 miles per hour over the speed limit — but those are just rumors. When in reality, if the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, you should drive 55 miles per hour. Period. Driving too fast will hinder your ability to react, which can lead to fatal consequences out on the roads. Similarly, driving too slow can be just as dangerous since everyone behind you is going the speed limit or just over. So make sure you’re sticking to the speed limit as closely as you can.
Next, and perhaps most importantly, need to be 100% attentive, alert, and aware whenever you get behind the wheel. And that means absolutely no impaired driving! Even if you are tired, rather than risking it — just do not drive. It’s worth it.
Injured? Here’s What to Do
If you have suffered a personal injury in any kind of auto accident, it’s imperative to seek competent medical and legal counsel right away. Neglecting to contact auto accident attorneys or a spine doctor after being injured in a car crash can lead to all sorts of financial, legal, stressful, ad even painful issues down the line.
Instead of waiting and prolonging these important duties, you need to be proactive. Contact knowledgable car accident injury attorneys as soon as possible. These legal professionals can help you from the moment your call goes through. They’ll advise you on what, exactly, should be your next step after being injured in a crash. It’s important to note, however, your first call after being in an auto accident should be to the authorities. First responders will arrive on the scene, care for you, and let you know whether or not it’s safe for you to exit the vehicle and go on with your day.
Once you are cleared, then it’s time to give your injury attorney a call.
It’s not just about car accidents, too. Similarly, if you’ve been involved in trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, or virtually any other type of auto collision, you can and should seek legitimate legal counsel. There are trucking and motorcycle accident lawyers that can help you with all kinds of specific details pertaining to your incident.
Additionally, it should be stated that you should never discuss anything about your accident with anyone until you have spoken to your attorney. Other driver’s insurance attorneys are diligent and will do everything in their power to lessen the financial damage of their clients or get you to admit fault. Even if the crash was clearly the other driver’s fault, don’t even discuss it with them. Get their insurance information and that’s it.
Make sure your vehicle is always equipped with the essentials. You’ll never know when you will need them, but you must have them. Some of these include jumper cables, a flashlight, an extra pair of clothes, a first-aid kit, water, a few blankets, a spare tire, toolbox, and extra chargers for your cell phone.
Owning your first vehicle is very exciting but it’s up to you to remain responsible and make sure your first vehicle is also not your last vehicle. Drive as safely as possible, know what to do in the event of an accident, take care of your vehicle at all times, and be diligent when shopping for your next auto purchase! Stay safe out there!