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How to Choose Your Next Vehicle

CarMan@EdmundsCarMan@Edmunds Posts: 38,518
edited March 7 in General
Step 1: Evaluate your needs.

The key to being happy with your new vehicle purchase is to pick a car or truck that works for you. One really needs to sit down and evaluate just what they want out of their vehicle before doing any serious shopping. Are you looking for something sporty? Do you need lots of room to haul stuff? Do you need four doors because you have or are expecting children? Do need a fuel efficient vehicle for a long commute? It is important to evaluate what you really need rather than letting the emotion of seeing a beautiful vehicle cause you to rush into buying something that won't work for you.

Step 2: Select a price range.

Once you have an idea of what type of vehicle you want, you need to establish how much money you want to spend on it. This means taking a look at your savings account to see how much cash you have to spend for a vehicle or for a down payment. If you plan on financing or leasing you will have to determine how much money per month you want to spend on your vehicle. Your budget for your vehicle will have a significant impact upon whether you should buy a new or a used one.

Step 3: Decide if you want a new or a used vehicle.

Once you have a general idea of what sort of vehicle you need and how much you want so spend on it, you have to decide whether you want to purchase a brand new vehicle or a used vehicle. The advantage to purchasing a used vehicle is that someone has already taken the large depreciation hit that new vehicles experience for you and they are less expensive than equivalent new vehicles. The disadvantage of purchasing a used vehicle is...well um it's used. By that I mean that you never know how well maintained a used vehicle has been and of course it will never have that new vehicle smell and mystique.

Tip: Consumers who want to lease are almost always better off going with new vehicles rather than used ones. The lease support that manufacturers provide on new vehicles often makes their monthly payments much more attractive than the equivalents payments would be on used vehicles.

Step 4: Narrow down the field

Now that you know exactly what type of vehicle you want and how much you want to spend, it's time to narrow down the field of potential vehicles. Surf around on the web, visiting various manufacturers' web sites and on Edmunds.com and come up with a short list of cars or trucks that will potentially suit your needs.

Step 5: Test drive the candidates

Once you have a list of a couple of vehicles you are interested in, it is very important to actually visit dealers and try them out. Reviews of vehicles are great, but there's no substitute for actually sitting in them and driving in them. When visiting dealers to look at vehicles, make sure that you explain that you will not be purchasing anything that day. You don't want to get sucked into making an expensive purchase like a new vehicle without thoroughly researching how much it should cost and how you will finance it first.

Step 6: Make your decision

By now you have all the information that you'll need to decide what vehicle is right for you. It's time to make your choice, research what a fair price for it is, and look into how you want to finance it.

Car_man
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Prices Paid: Buying & Leasing Experiences Forum

Comments

  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    Excellent advice. As I'm currently contemplating a 3rd vehicle for my family, I can tell you I've been mentally going through this list in the exact order presented:

    Step 1: Evaluate your needs.

    As we already have a sedan and an SUV, the third car will be a fun vehicle, most likely a convertible. So, not much in the way of needs here ... other than a desire to have a manual transmission and a little bit of storage space.

    Step 2: Select a price range.

    Probably under $25K, so the payments can fit into the family budget.

    Step 3: Decide if you want a new or a used vehicle.

    Since there aren't too many drop-tops that sell for under $25K, it looks like I'll be going the used route. Don't forget about the difference between "used" and "CPO" (certified pre-owned).

    Step 4: Narrow down the field

    This is the stage where I'm currently at. 2 seats or 4? How badly do I want a manual transmission? Power hard top or soft top? FWD or RWD? Lots of decisions still to be made.

    Step 5: Test drive the candidates

    I've sat in and / or test driven a couple of potential candidates and have ruled them in or out accordingly.

    Step 6: Make your decision

    Since I won't be buying until next summer at the earliest, I've got plenty of time to think about my options, continue to review my choices both on-line and at the dealer.
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