How to Navigate the Car Buying Process: Five Tips for First-Time Buyers

How to Navigate the Car Buying Process: Five Tips for First-Time Buyers

Posted at Tue, May 16, 2023 2:30 PM

First time at a dealership? First car? Maybe you’re a little nervous? We get it. 

At Mullinax Ford, we love helping first-time buyers find the vehicle that’s right for them. We come to work every day eager to answer questions, explain all the latest tech advances and smooth our customers’ way through the buying process.  

Here are five tips to help first-timers understand what happens at the dealership – and how our team can work with you to get you behind the wheel of the vehicle you want.

Five Tips For First-Time Buyers

Determining your vehicle needs.

Think about your specific needs, including:

  • Where you drive – city streets, rural roads, back roads or off-road.
  • Passenger space – how many people and how often do you have riders?
  • Cargo space – groceries, camping gear, everything for your kid’s soccer team?
  • Local weather.

Consider your budget and the overall cost of ownership, including: 

  • Monthly payments.
  • Insurance.
  • Maintenance and repairs.
  • Gas (or electric charging).
  • Parking fees, if they are a regular part of your lifestyle.

And, finally, check out these sources for some additional information:

  • for fuel economy ratings.
  • Consumer Reports, Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds for reviews and reliability ratings.
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ( for safety ratings.

Paying for your new ride.

Most people finance their vehicles, especially for their first purchase. Here’s what to know:

  • Understand your credit score. Lenders – including Ford Credit – are going to check it before approving financing.
  • You should be able to get a free copy of the report. Make sure everything is correct and address any errors before seeking financing.
  • To better your chances of securing loan approval: 
    • Provide proof of a steady job and income.
    • Save for a larger down payment.
    • Ask someone with good credit to co-sign the loan.

Our team of financial experts works hard to get you the best loan solution for your situation. Here’s how:

  • Through Ford Credit, we offer competitive rates and terms on our large selection of new and used trucks, cars, vans and SUVs.
  • We work with other top lenders nationally and locally to find the best options for you.
  • We negotiate on your behalf with outside lenders.
  • We can work with you if you have a low credit score or other financial issues. We don’t just look at numbers – we consider the details of your individual situation to find a way to help.

Taking a test drive.

After you’ve identified some potential new vehicles, schedule a test drive. Here are some details to keep in mind:

  • Take your time. At Mullinax Ford, we’ll never rush you through this crucial part of the buying process. And yes, you can drive more than one or two vehicles to determine which one is right for you.
  • Sit behind the wheel and see how the vehicle fits you and your needs. Consider the seat position, location of controls, position of the steering wheel and other variables. Does it accommodate your height (or lack thereof) or body type? Can you comfortably and safely drive the vehicle?
  • Pay attention to how the vehicle feels on the road.
  • Try to simulate how you’d drive the vehicle in everyday life – for instance, stop-and-go on city streets or merging and accelerating onto a highway. Drive over some bumps, take a few corners and find a safe location to test the brakes.
  • Check out the sound system -- that’s a must! – but turn it off when you’re on the road so you can listen to the engine.
  • Get in and out of the car several times.
  • Sit in the back seat, especially if you regularly carry passengers. 
  • Check out the cargo space. 
  • Got kids? Bring their car seats along to test fit and ease of installation. 

Negotiating the price.

Ha! Pay no attention to this one. At Mullinax Ford, you can skip this step. Worrying about getting a good deal can stress out any buyer, especially someone new to the process. So:

  • We never haggle. 
  • Our Up Front™ Pricing puts the price right on the sticker. Just add tax and tag to figure out your final amount.
  • Everyone sees the same number and gets the same buying opportunity. 
  • We never charge dealer fees either, which saves our buyers thousands compared to the competition.
  • The numbers are the same online as they are on the lot.
Up Front Pricing

Driving that baby home!

Be careful on your first ride in your new vehicle: 

  • Use your turn signals and obey all traffic rules. 
  • Don’t get too close to any other vehicles.
  • When you get home, park it where everyone can rush over to admire it. (Wait until people leave to wipe off the fingerprints though.)

We look forward to seeing you for your first oil change!

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