Mandi Lopez-Brown, General Manager at Car-Mart of Rogers North

How to Buy Your First Car

America’s Car-Mart Expert Mandi Lopez-Brown Shares Five Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

So, you’re in the market for your first vehicle. What do you do? Where do you go? How do you do it? Help!

At America’s Car-Mart, a buy here pay here dealership, we know buying a vehicle – especially your first vehicle – is a big decision. We also understand first-time car buyers may be apprehensive about this task. We make the process easy and we’re here to help.

Plus, we want our customers to make the right decision, according to Mandi Lopez-Brown, who as a General Manager at Car-Mart of Tulsa South, Okla., has helped numerous first-time car buyers navigate the car-buying process.

“We’ve been in business for over 40 years so we’re a company that customers can trust,” says Mandi. “We care about our customers and we want to help them get into the right vehicle at the right price so they can make their payments and pay it off.”

Buying your first vehicle may be your first major purchase, so there’s much to consider. And Mandi says planning is the key to making the process easy and worry-free.

Mandi’s Five Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

Here are important things to know as you start your car-buying process:

 1. Understand your transportation needs

Do you need transportation to go to and from work? Is it a long commute? Do you need extra seating for your friends and family? Do you need a truck?

Know what’s important to you about vehicles. “Really love the vehicle you buy,” Mandi says. “Be sure to choose the right vehicle. If you don’t like it, you won’t want to take care of it.”

 2. Know your budget

Car-Mart associates will walk you through the car-buying process and answer all your questions.

How much can you afford? What can you afford weekly or monthly for your car payment?

Prepare a budget so you’ll know exactly what you can spend each month. “It’s helpful to know this information before you come into Car-Mart. Come prepared and know your comfort level. We’ll talk about your individual situations,” says Mandi. “This will set you up for success.”

Car-Mart can schedule payments based on when you are paid (weekly, bi-monthly, monthly) so the payment fits your budgeting process. It’s also important to understand the ongoing expenses of owning a car, including insurance, fuel, and ongoing maintenance – all of which need to be included in your overall budget.

 3. Shop Car-Mart’s inventory online

What vehicles are on the lot that interests you and fit your needs?

Get an idea of what you’re looking for and single out a vehicle that interests you. Start shopping at to look up the Car-Mart location nearest you.

 4. Complete Car-Mart’s online application

What kind of vehicle are you looking for? What is your anticipated down payment? What is your residence and income?

These are the questions you’ll be asked on our online application. Car-Mart needs this information to review your personal situation

“When it comes to financing, we base our decisions on stability – how long you have lived in the area, length of employment, time at residence,” remarks Mandi. “Even if you have a credit problem or don’t think your score is good enough, give us a chance. We work with all different types of credit situations.”

When you submit this information online, you’ll save time at the dealership. Get pre-qualified and know the amount you qualify for before you get to Car-Mart. It takes 5 minutes, and there’s not hit to your credit. Get pre-qualified today.

 5. Shop for insurance

What kind of coverage is required in your state? What will the insurance cover?

“We require insurance before you leave our dealership,” says Mandi, while adding that Car-Mart connects buyers with insurance providers. “Customers can call right from the lot.”

Car-Mart offers an optional Service Contract Plus package that covers unexpected major mechanical repairs to add confidence to your vehicle purchase. Plus, you can get added protection with roadside assistance and oil changes. “It’s added protection if you will, and it gives you peace of mind that we’ll stand behind our vehicles and keep you on the road,” Mandi says.

Pay Your Way – Never Worry about Missing a Payment

Here’s a bonus tip from Mandi – don’t miss a payment with one of Car-Mart’s several convenient ways to pay – recurring payments with Auto Pay, online, by phone or in person.

Keeping You on the Road

“When you come to Car-Mart, we won’t oversell you. We’ll help with an affordable down payment and payments that fit your budget,” says Mandi. “Our staff is extremely friendly and informative. We won’t put people in vehicles they can’t afford.”

Mandi emphasizes that Car-Mart is here for you throughout your vehicle ownership. “And when we hand the keys to you, we’re so excited. If you need anything throughout your contract term, we’re here. We’re available,” Mandi concludes. “We’ll help you through tough times and provide you with the assurance you can pay off your car. We want you to be successful.”

Bottom line, there’s a sense of pride in owning your first vehicle – and Car-Mart stands ready to get you into a new vehicle and happily on your way.

Have more questions?

For more helpful information about buying a vehicle at Car-Mart, check out these blogs:

Ready to get your dream car?

Schedule an appointment with a Car-Mart associate today and start the process!

Editor’s Note: Since this blog was originally published in June 2021, Mandi Lopez-Brown has been promoted. This article features Mandi’s new title and location. Plus, it’s been enhanced with links to other informative articles on

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