Choosing a vehicle is nearly overwhelming with the large variety of choices on the market. If you are looking for a new vehicle, you need to do your research and narrow down your choices before you begin test drives. Today I’m taking off my sales hat to help you do just that. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’ve spent years selling new and used cars professionally. Today I’m going to put on the buyer hat though and help you make a more informed decision. Here we go!

 

A little research on your part will help you avoid being pressured into a car that’s not right for you.

 

Automobile Safety Ratings

Remember these guys from the TV commercials?

Safety ratings are very important. Research your prospective vehicle by utilizing the Internet and industry-specific publications, and check the safety ratings. Choose a car that is safe and handles accidents well. Airbags and other safety features must be factored in to your purchase.

 

Choosing the right Brand

Many car buyers are very brand-loyal. Determine which brand or brands you want to look at before you go shopping. You may be loyal to a brand for a reason, or you may wish to pursue a vehicle that you’ve seen in and advertisement. Picking a brand before shopping can help you narrow down vehicles to a few specific models.

 

Price

What is your price range? Will you be financing your vehicle, paying cash or leasing? Do you have a trade-in? Can you get financing if needed, and if so, what will your payments and interest rate be? How about insurance – will your insurance be higher or lower than you are paying now, and can you afford the cost? What about the taxes on the vehicle purchase? Can you factor these into your loan, or must they be paid up front? Title and tags are also costs that must be considered. These are the most important factors in a car purchase for many consumers. Make sure the vehicle you ultimately choose is in your budget, with a little wiggle room in case of emergencies.

 

Mileage/Fuel

Mileage is also an important consideration. Make sure your vehicle won’t eat you out of house and home. In addition, check the type of fuel it uses. If it gets great gas mileage but takes a more expensive fuel that is a higher octane rating, you may not be getting a good deal. You may also wish to purchase a hybrid vehicle. These are important considerations that you need to determine before you go to the dealership to drive anything.

 

Style and Size

Determine what type of vehicle you need. Are you looking for a car, minivan, SUV, truck? How big should it be? Are you going to be hauling kids, pets, belongings? Or do you want something little and fun for just you? Do you need lots of space? These are all important considerations when shopping.

 

Features

What features do you need on your vehicle? GPS, Backup Camera, Smartphone hookups? How about built-in child safety restraints or pet restraints? Make a list in order of importance, and determine what your “deal-breakers” are when you look at vehicles.

 

Other considerations

There are some other hidden factors that must be considered. Parts and maintenance should be budgeted for. Does the vehicle you are looking at need expensive, specialized tires or other parts? Be sure to plan for these costs so they don’t spring up on you later.

 

By planning ahead, you can find the perfect vehicle that fits in your budget and your lifestyle. Make sure you do plenty of research and don’t buy on impulse.