Every car owner has different transportation needs and has different tastes in vehicles, so the best car for John is probably not the best car for Jane.
Before purchasing a vehicle, it’s important to consider a few key factors and make an informed decision based on your own personal tastes, lifestyle, and intended use. Convertibles sound fun, but if you live in rainy Seattle and have a family of four – you might need to consider another option.
People used to say that you only needed to ask two key questions before buying a car:
- Can I pay for it?
- Will it get me from “A” to “B”?
If the answers to those two questions were a “yes”, only then would you consider if you liked the vehicle and if it something you could see yourself owning for the next 5 years. With so many options on a car lot today, this is no longer the best way to choose your next vehicle. Here’s what to look for instead:
Why am I buying a new (or used) vehicle?
The first step in choosing a brand new or new-to-you car is asking yourself what you will use it for. You and your family’s lifestyle is the single biggest factor determining the car you should get. If you’ll be running 4 kids to soccer practice every week, then a sports car probably isn’t the best option. Similarly, if you’re using the car for your long commute to and from work, something with good fuel efficiency is likely a wise choice. Think a few years into the future and also think about the past. How many times have you needed to haul something or wished you had a large SUV or a truck? On the other hand, how many times do you wish you had a compact car in order to get the premium parking spots in public garages?
What can you afford?
This is a no brainer. Before purchasing the car you want, think about your monthly budget for all things vehicle related. Remember, this isn’t simply the total price or the monthly payment of the vehicle.
Know what the costs of insuring, maintaining and fueling your vehicle are on a monthly basis. Taxes, registration, inspection fees and tags will also play a small role on an annual basis, depending on where you live. Now i not the time to underestimate just so you can fit within your monthly budget – add a 10% buffer, at minimum, so you can really make sure you can afford the vehicle and everything that comes along with it.
What specs or features do I need?
Now that you have your budget and intended purpose in mind, research what vehicle specs and features are non-negotiable for you. Do you need a vehicle that gets at least 30 MPG in order to keep your fuel costs low? Do you need AWD or a 4WD vehicle to get safely through the snow in the winter? If you need a vehicle for heavy duty work, such as towing or transporting materials, then a truck with a diesel engine might be the right fit. For large families, a folding third row seat is convenient and makes the ride comfortable for everyone. Or maybe you want a car that does 0-60 in under 5 seconds. It’s up to you.
If you can answer these three questions (bolded above) then you are well on your way to picking our a vehicle that will last you for years and serve you happily.
How do you know you’ve found “the one?”