Choosing the Right Car for You

So you’ve decided to buy a new car – congratulations! Now comes the fun part: test-driving a bunch of different cars while you decide which one you’d like. Only the fun part can quickly become the stressful part if you don’t decide early on one basic things like your budget, your goals, and your shopping destinations. Here are some things to consider before you head to the dealership, so that your test drives don’t go on long enough to frustrate you.

Where to shop

When it comes to buying a car, your best bet is almost always a car dealership. These businesses specialize in cars, so they’ll have plenty for you to try out. Look for a big dealership with a good reputation – those larger, manufacturer-branded dealerships are less likely to rip you off than sketchy small-time used car dealerships. Look at review sites like Yelp to get an idea of how trustworthy your local dealerships are and, of course, look for ones that sell the type of car you want (more on that in a moment).

While it’s not as easy to spot a lemon on the internet, it is possible to do car shopping online. You can use the internet to buy cars second-hand from their owners, or you can head to one of the many large used car websites, which broker deals and sometimes offer some more protection than you’d get from using Craigslist or a similar site.

Stick to your budget

If there’s one thing that you need to decide before beginning your car-buying journey, it’s how much you want to spend. Cars vary wildly in price, from economy cars to massively expensive luxury vehicles. Luckily, cars from major manufacturers are usually sorted into a “class” – like economy cars, for instance – which will help you set a reasonable budget and compare between similarly priced cars from different manufacturers.

Depending on what dealership you go to, your salesman or woman may try to convince you that you can afford a more expensive vehicle because of a loan program they have. Stick to your guns – you know best what you can afford, and you never want to end up in a situation where you can’t afford your own car.

Size matters

This may sound obvious, but one key thing you’re going to have to decide is how big of a car you need. Do you have a lot of kids? Maybe a minivan or an SUV is best for you. No kids and lots of money? A coupe might be the right direction to go in. Think as well of storage space: do you want a traditional trunk or a big vertical trunk door like the ones on SUVs and minivans?

If you can determine what size of vehicle you need and what your budget is, you’ll have 90% of the information that you need in order to choose your next vehicle.

Going green

If you care about the earth, there’s never been a better time to buy a vehicle. Cars now offer all sorts of ways to save the environment, from increased fuel economy to alternate fuels. You can get hybrid cars, electric cars, and bio-diesel cars, to name just a few, and all of these advances can help make you feel better about your car’s carbon footprint.

Makes and models

By now you know what size of vehicle you want, how much you want to spend, and what kind of green perks you want. Now you’re at the fun part: head to a few different dealerships and test drive the vehicles that fit your description. It shouldn’t take long – it doesn’t make sense for any manufacturer to make, for instance, more than one hybrid SUV at the same price range. Each dealership will have only one or two vehicles that truly fit your criteria, so try out all of them and pick the one you love!