Owning a car isn’t just a luxury for many; in some areas, having a car is mandatory for working and performing day-to-day tasks. Because there are so many factors to consider when buying a car, the process can feel overwhelming. By taking some time to focus on your priorities and budgeting appropriately, however, you can ease the process. Here are some guidelines when you’re in the market for a new car.
What’s Your Budget?
Before considering other factors, take some time to find out what you can comfortably afford. Buying a car adds a number of bills you’ll need to pay every month, and falling behind on payments can lead to significant financial problems in the future. Determine how much you can pay per month for your loan, and make sure to factor in insurance as well. Set aside some money each month for a fund to cover maintenance and repairs, and make sure to factor in how much you’ll need for gas each month. Fortunately, there are plenty of options, even at a low price point.
Next, think about what type of vehicle you need. For families, having enough seats for everyone to ride comfortably is a top priority. If you regularly transport items, make sure the vehicles you look at have enough space in the trunk or have fold-down seats. Other factors outlined below are important as well, but it’s essential that your new vehicle covers your needs on a day-to-day basis.
Newer vehicles are significantly safer than their older counterparts, but models still vary. Before deciding that a particular vehicle might be the right choice for you, make sure to look up its safety rating. Some vehicles score well in driver safety but offer subpar ratings for passengers, so factor this in if you regularly transport other people. If you have a child who’ll also use your vehicle, take a close look at the rollover rating, as inexperienced drivers are more prone to rollovers than more experienced drivers.
One of the biggest costs of vehicle ownership is gas consumption, and vehicles differ significantly. You may prefer pickup trucks for their convenience in hauling around large items, but their poor mileage might encourage you to instead consider a smaller crossover to save on fuel costs. If you’re also interested in reducing your impact on the environment, picking a hybrid model can also save on fuel money at the expense of a greater initial cost. Again, make sure to look at your budget. A less fuel-efficient vehicle may be the right choice for your needs, but make sure you can afford the added cost of driving.
Do you take long trips frequently? Are you prone to back and neck pain? Make sure to factor in comfort when comparing models. It can be difficult to determine how comfortable a car is without driving it for an extended period of time, but seats with more adjustment options offer extra versatility. When taking a test drive, it can be easy to focus on performance and lose track of comfort, but make sure to note how you feel when driving.
For those who spend a lot of time in their cars, entertainment options can be important. A good sound system makes listening to music more enjoyable, and Bluetooth connectivity, along with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, makes streaming your own content much easier. If you have children, having a television they can watch can make trips a bit more tolerable for everyone. However, it’s worth noting that aftermarket options are often a smart investment, particularly if you’re looking at older models. Saving money on the initial cost and buying a new head unit can help you get a better deal and better entertainment options.
Some drivers scoff at the idea of paying extra money for more horsepower, while others place a high priority on performance. Wherever you fall, make sure to factor performance into your budget. If you can afford a sportier car, you might find your daily commute to be a bit more fun. If you’re looking at value, however, sticking with a less powerful engine can save you money on your purchase, at the pump, and possibly on your insurance premium.
Look and Feel
Making a chart and comparing various models can help you make a wise purchase. However, you’ll likely own your car for a few years at a minimum, and having a car you enjoy looking at and driving is important as well. After you’ve narrowed your list, make sure to consider how happy you think you’ll be with your car over the long term. You’re more likely to stick with a car you love for longer, which can save you money over the years.
Whether you need a car as soon as possible or are simply exploring what options are available, taking an organized approach can help you make the right decision. Focus on your day-to-day life, and make sure to think about your priorities. A bit of extra planning can go a long way to help you make the right purchase for you and your family.