Purchasing a car isn’t as simple as it used to be when your only option was a Model T in a single color: black. With so many choices, makes, models, special features, etc. it’s hard to figure out where to begin.Follow these 7 guidelines to find the right automobile to suit your needs, lifestyle, and budget.
- Determine Needs vs. Wants: No matter what type of car you purchase, if it runs, it will get you where you need to go. So start by figuring out what’s absolutely necessary. Do you need to be able to drive in severe winter weather? Or great gas mileage to help you deal with a killer commute? Maybe your new car needs to be able to carry a minimum number of people or accommodate a passenger with special needs. Whatever they are, be sure you know what features are non-negotiable, and which ones you can do without.
- Check Your Budget: Can you afford a car payment, or do you need to buy a used car outright? Be realistic about how much you can afford up front or maintain long term. And don’t forget to figure in insurance and maintenance costs.
- Plan Ahead: It’s a good idea to think about what’s on the horizon and what will happen when your new or used vehicle is a few years old. Maybe you’re thinking of purchasing a vehicle that will make a great first car for a teen driver, or one that will need to be replaced in five years. Consider the changes ahead and what would make the best long-term investment.
- Think About Others: Children, teen drivers, and pets are just a few of those you may want to consider before purchasing a new vehicle. Who else will be driving or riding in your new car, and what accommodations do they need?
- Find Testimonials: What’s the best way to get the real scoop on anything? Talk to somebody who has been there. Getting first hand information from a real driver is an excellent way to evaluate a potential vehicle. Plan your questions ahead of time and don’t be afraid to approach a stranger.
- Take Advantage of Technology: The internet can make buying some things impossible; but it gives car shoppers a great opportunity to compare prices, read honest reviews and find better deals close to home. Use it.
- Drive Discerningly: Test driving a vehicle involves both skill and intuition, so make sure you’re prepared before you go. If possible, take somebody with you somebody you trust and who can help you see past the excitement. Try out the vehicle both in town and on the freeway. Look around: in the trunk, the backseat, on the floor. Bring a list of questions and don’t be afraid to ask them!