Choosing the Perfect Car

How to Choose the Car That’s Right for You

When you’re in the market to buy a new car, you want to make sure you have all of your priorities in order before you actually sign on the dotted line. Buying a vehicle is a big purchase, so you want to have an idea about what car is right for you before you head out to the dealership. This will make your actual car search much more productive, and it can also help ensure that you don’t start compromising on your needs or budget with an impulse buy. Make sure you consider some of the following options when you go out to purchase a vehicle.

Things to Consider When Buying a New Car

  1. What are your driving needs? Don’t get sucked into automotive trends or sales and end up with a vehicle that doesn’t suit your lifestyle. Ask yourself what you need in a vehicle. Do you drive a lot of miles and need a vehicle with great fuel economy? Then a large SUV might not be your best bet. Do you haul a lot of heavy equipment or recreational vehicles? Do you have a large family? Then a compact coupe probably wouldn’t work either. You’ll narrow down your search when you determine the primary needs that must be met by your new vehicle.
  2. How much can you afford? Figure out how much you can afford to pay each month for your new car. Your payments should usually not be more than 20% of your monthly income. Take into account the trade-in value of your current vehicle, how much money you have to put down, current interest rates, and the amount of money you may have to finance.
  3. Should you buy new, used, or lease? Once you determine how much you can afford, you may have to change your game plan. Purchasing a new vehicle is great, especially if the APR is low, but if you can’t afford as much as you expected, you may get a better deal on a used vehicle. Leasing is another great option, especially if you don’t have a lot of money for a down payment. Many lease options do not require much initial money down and offer low monthly payments for a few years. With a lease, you may get to drive a more expensive vehicle that would be out of your budget if you were financing it. Plus, you can get a new car every few years once the lease is up.
  4. Consider the vehicle’s overall value. Research the actual value of the vehicles you’re considering. While some vehicles may be priced higher than others in the same class, they may actually be worth more in overall value. Don’t just look at what kinds of features and options are available in different makes and models in the same class. Look at the overall cost of ownership, which includes factors like the vehicle’s depreciation rate, fuel cost, maintenance, and insurance.
  5. Test drive the vehicle. Even if you think it’s the car of your dreams, you need to really get a feel for every model you’re considering out on the road. Drive on different roads and terrains at different speeds to see how it handles. Play with the buttons, adjust the seat, and see if the car “fits” your driving style and preferences.

Once you have taken these factors into consideration, communicate your needs to the salesperson you’re working with at the dealership. They want you to find a vehicle you’re happy with as much as you do, so being clear about your needs only makes your experience at the dealership run more smoothly. If you follow these guidelines and are honest with yourself about what you need, want, and can afford in a new vehicle, you should have no trouble finding a model you’ll love for years to come!

April 11, 2012 by Jamie Rettig