12 Tips for Finding Your Perfect Car

Posted by: Dan on 8/01/2015

Category: General

The Lamborghini Aventador

The prospect of buying a new car is always exciting, but with so many options available, it can quickly become overwhelming. Should you buy a new car or a used vehicle? What type of vehicle do you need? Should you opt to include special features? How much vehicle can you afford?

When most of us think about buying a new car, we can't help but dream about what we’d like to have. In reality, though, it’s better to think practically about what will best suit your needs now, as well as in the future. This is particularly true, as, according to USA Today magazine, 78 per cent of people in the post-recession era tend to keep their vehicles at least 10 years.

Whether you wait 10 years or opt for an upgrade sooner, the time will come when you must replace your vehicle. Following the tips below will help ensure your replacement is the perfect car for you:

Tip #1 - What Do You Need in a Car?

Begin by thinking about the number of passengers you need to transport. Also, consider the type of driving that you typically do, including whether you spend more time on surface streets, highways or off-road trails. What about your climate? Do you drive in ice and snow? Do you have a long commute and, therefore, need a vehicle with good fuel economy? Do you require an all-wheel drive vehicle, or one with a lot of cargo carrying capacity? What safety features do you need? How much parking space or garage do you have available?

This may sound like a lot of questions, but the time you put into answering them before setting out to the car lot will be well worth it.

Tip #2 -  Consider Your Finances

Unless you can afford to pay cash for your next vehicle, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to finance the purchase of a car or lease it. think about the amount of money that you can afford for a car payment each month. The general rule of thumb is that your vehicle payment should not exceed 20 per cent of your monthly take-home pay. Overextending yourself on your vehicle budget can result in serious problems later on and could threaten your ability to keep your vehicle.

Tip #3 - Consider the Pros and Cons of Leasing a Car

Both leasing and buying have their own advantages and disadvantages. Among the primary benefits of a lease is that there’s typically little to no down payment required. In addition, a lease often involves a lower monthly payment than a car loan payment. The downside is that at the end of the lease, you’ll have no vehicle to show for the money you’ve spent and will need to replace it.

Additionally, keep in mind that with most leases, you’re subject to mileage penalties if you exceed the maximum amount of miles allowed during the lease period. This can turn into additional costs at the same time that you need money to fund your replacement vehicle.

Tip #4 - Weigh the Option to Buy Your New Car

By comparison, purchasing a vehicle is more expensive at the outset than leasing, and the monthly payments are usually higher. At the end of the loan, however, you will own the vehicle. If you’re more interested in driving a more expensive vehicle, but you have a smaller budget, a lease could be the better option. On the other hand, if you require more flexibility and are concerned about mileage penalties, buying is often the best choice.

Tip #5 - Think About the Cost of Ownership

It’s also important to consider the cost of ownership in the process of deciding which vehicle is right for your needs. USA Today further reports that the average cost of vehicle ownership is more than $9,000 per year. In some instances, one vehicle might be less expensive to purchase, but could be more expensive to actually own. This can happen when one vehicle depreciates at a faster rate or when it costs more to insure and maintain than another option.

Prior to making a final decision regarding which vehicle is best for your needs, it’s important that you calculate how much it will cost to own that vehicle over the long-term. Ownership costs to consider include insurance, depreciation, fuel, and maintenance costs.

Tip #6 - Schedule a Test Drive

While some things in life can be purchased without trying them on, so to speak, that’s usually not the case with a vehicle. For this reason, it is imperative that you set up a time when you can test drive the vehicle you’re considering buying. Even though a vehicle may seem as though it has all of the right features and is priced right, a test drive can make a significant difference in terms of determining whether or not you’ve actually found the right fit.

Tip #7 - Simulate Your Normal Driving Habits

That said, don’t just pick up your test drive and take it around the lot. In order to be sure the results of your test drive are accurate, it’s important to drive the vehicle in question in the same way that you would in everyday life. For instance, if you commute on a daily basis, drive the vehicle at both highway speeds and stop-and-go traffic to get a complete understanding of how the car handles in the conditions you’ll experience regularly.

Tip #8 - Test and Check All of the Features

While on your test drive, find a safe location to test the brakes by stopping quickly several times. Get in and out of the vehicle, and sit in the vehicle's backseat - especially if you’ll need to transport passengers frequently. Inspect the cargo space to ensure it has enough room for your needs. If you have children and need to use child safety seats, bring them and make sure that they can be installed easily.

Tip #9 - Focus on What’s Important

It’s easy to become distracted when evaluating a vehicle, especially if there’s an eager salesperson nearby. Even so, it’s vital that you take the time necessary to look over the car. Buying or even leasing a vehicle is a big investment, and you need to be sure that it’s the right car for you. If you feel pressured in any way to do the deal, move on to the next car lot and try to find a salesperson who will give you the time needed to focus on the vehicle’s most important features.

Tip #10 - Avoid Making a Rash Decision

Ideally, it’s best to test drive more than one vehicle in order to make an objective and informed decision. As you complete your test drives, the choice of which vehicle is perfect for you should become clear. But if you still feel unsure or torn between different options, don’t make any rash decisions. Give yourself time to think about it. If you still aren’t able to decide, you may need to evaluate a few more vehicles.

Tip #11 - Consider All of Your Options

Although it’s important that you make the right decision in finding your next vehicle, it’s also important to recognise that there are many different options available today. Car manufacturing technology has evolved significantly in the last few years, and many vehicles have better safety features and higher fuel mileage than in the past. As a result, there could be several vehicle options that might fit your needs - but you won’t be able to choose the right one if you aren’t open to all the possibilities that are available to you.

Tip #12 - Do You Feel Good about the Purchase?

Buying a vehicle is an important decision. But all the numbers and test drives in the world might lead you to a different conclusion than what your gut is telling to you to do. Listen to your gut instinct! Ask yourself if you feel good about the purchase or if you still feel apprehensive? Taking your time and evaluating all of your options will ensure you find the vehicle that’s truly perfect for you and your budget.

What tips would you add to this list? Share your recommendations in the comments section below!

Image: Wikimedia Commons