How to Pick the Right Vehicle For You
When it comes to car shopping, there are a couple of things to think about. Just walking into a dealership, or onto the lot, and you’re hit with many options and models, so it’s hard to know where to start. One of the best things to do before car shopping is to plan and have a strategy, and most importantly, know what you want out of a car.
Make or Break Features
First thing to do is to figure out the features you absolutely must have in the vehicle, and be practical. Sure, an all-wheel drive vehicle is kind of neat, but unless you plan to drive in snow or on icy roads, the extra cost may not be worth it. Why do you need the car? Is it just needed for the daily commute to work, transportation for the family, or is it for travel or adventure? Those three factors alone will affect the size of the vehicle, its cargo capacity, and capabilities.
When it comes to features you want, everyone has a preference. Some people have had leather seats and don’t want to go back to cloth. Others have no use for a fancy stereo as long as they can plug in their iPod or MP3 player. Some people like to have a sunroof to enjoy the breeze on a summer day. Make a list of all these features, cross out those you don’t really need, and you’ll know what is most important to you. Don’t forget to include features that will go with everyday items, like a phone charging port or voice-command Bluetooth to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Set a Budget Now and Later
It’s good to know how much you can spend on a vehicle, and then drop the price by about a thousand dollars. Making a car payment could be pretty affordable, depending on all of your other monthly expenses. When you sit down to make a budget, put your monthly take home pay and monthly expenses side by side, like a bank statement. Subtract every expense from your pay one-by-one. If you drop below the average monthly payment (about $250 to $400), then analyze your expenses and see what can be taken out. Food, rent, and necessities come first.
Think about whether you want to finance or lease a car because both have advantages. Some leases don’t require a down payment, most of the time the monthly payments are lower, and after the lease term is up you can get a new model. On the other hand, financing a car can require a down payment, monthly payments can be higher, but the owners can modify the car as much as they want (or need to), there isn’t an mileage limit, and owners can resell it for a good price if the vehicle is kept in good condition.
There are also a lot more expenses than just the initial down payment and or monthly payments. Depending on a vehicle’s fuel economy, one’s daily commute, and the price of gas, the average American spends about $2,000/year on fuel. And gasoline isn’t the only ever-growing cost. There’s license and registration for the vehicle, auto insurance, and maintenance. That’s why it is wise to buy or lease a vehicle that is under your monthly budget.
Do Some Research
You’re not ready yet, cowboy. Walking into a dealership showroom with only a price in mind is like swimming with the sharks. Do the proper research on vehicles that have the features you want and the price you can afford. You can do this by using websites like Kelley Blue Book (KBB) or Edmunds. We covered the must-have features, but also think about the class of car you want. The auto market is growing with crossovers and SUVs these days, and with modern technology, many of them aren’t too shabby when it comes to fuel economy, if that’s an important feature to you. However, there’s also hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) popping up, too.
Compare several vehicles before making a choice. Keep in mind that a car model comes in various trims, or levels, so just because the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport looks great, doesn’t mean you’ll only pay $19,795 for all the features you want. The new Limited Edition may suit your fancy though.
Also know what a car is worth. Before going to a dealership, visit their website and see what they have in stock. What prices are being advertised versus what KBB says. If you know how to haggle, or know someone who can, know what price you should be paying versus what the dealership wants to charge. Just be sure to keep the budget to yourself.
Once you have a vehicle in mind, you need to make sure you actually like driving it. It’s too bad we can’t rent cars constantly to try them out. All we get today is a test drive around the block. It’s not really enough to get a feel for a car, but no one says you have to buy or lease a vehicle after just one drive. Make multiple appointments, try out several cars for a good comparison, go to every dealership that has the car you want. All of it will add up to important research for you, the driver.
Also be sure to check out all the features there and whether you can check them off your list. What about the daily commute? If you live in South Florida, you may have noticed it’s raining nearly every day. How well does this car handle wet roads? Maybe take a test-drive during a little storm if that’s what it takes. Above all else, don’t be distracted. When test driving a car, you’re evaluating it, and should pay close attention to every facet of what it’s like to drive.
Now you should have a better idea of how to find the right vehicle for you, and how to go about finding it. Know what features you must have based on your daily life and daily drive, know your budget, do the research, and get a good feel for the vehicle. Already have something in mind? You can schedule a test drive with us today.