Buy the Right Car

Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria

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Buying a car is not only a huge investment, but it is also a tool for to make getting around more convenient and in some cases, where the public transportation system is lacking, necessary for getting to and from work the grocery store, etc. But what car should you buy? There are so many makes and models out there that it can be hard to choose. Whether you are shopping for a used car or one that's fresh off the assembly line, this guide will help you find the best car to suit your needs.

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Car Research

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The most important part of choosing the right vehicle for you is to carefully research the available makes and models. The Internet is a tremendous source of information, but don't stop at just the manufacturer's website, visit car review sites, forums, and sites such as Reddit.com to get an idea of what other people's experiences with have been. To help you along, here are some websites to check out:

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Lease or Buy?

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You have the option to lease a vehicle or buy it outright. Which option you go with is a matter of personal taste as much as anything else. Here are some factors to consider in making your choice:

  • Leasing lets you drive a new car every two or so years
  • Buying lets you own the car outright after you've paid off your car loan
  • Buying lets you put an unlimited number of miles on the car every year
  • Leasing lets you drive a more expensive car for a lower monthly payment
  • Leasing requires a low or no down payment

Used or New?

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Used cars can be cheaper than new cars, but depending on the model, the price may not be significantly different, especially if you are buying from a dealer. You will find the greatest savings if you buy from a private party; however, it is riskier than going to a dealer. If you plan on owning the car for a number of years, it makes more sense to buy a new car because it will have the most life on it. On the other hand, you might be able to get a nicer model for the same price If you buy a used car.

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Purpose

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Cars are built for different purposes, thus while one car might work well for a particular need, it may not work so well for another.

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    Will you be commuting an hour or more per day
    ?
    If you are going to be in your car for two or more hours every day, then cars that have a lot of comfort features and an ergonomic design should top your list. To find the most comfortable models, do research online and make a list of the ones that interest you before heading out to the dealership
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  2. 2
    Will you be doing any off-roading for work or pleasure
    ?
    A truck or SUV with four or all-wheel drive is important if you'll be driving over rough terrain.
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  3. 3
    Will you be carrying many passengers
    ?
    If you have a large family or you expect to be ferrying people around regularly in your car, then a comfortable larger car, SUV, or minivan is most appropriate for your needs. Another consideration if you are going to be ferrying people is the number of doors. Four doors make it easier for everyone to get in and out of your car than two.
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  4. 4
    Will you be hauling materials, tools, and other loads
    ?
    If so, then you need a truck or cargo van. Even a large SUV can work well for this purpose, but be sure that there is enough room. Hatchback cars are good if you are concerned about fuel economy as well.
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  5. 5
    Will the car be a family car
    ?
    If this car is to be the only vehicle in the household, then it might have to pull double-duty for different things. For instance, you may use to take your children back and forth to school while your husband may use it to cart lumber home from the hardware store for that project he's working on. If so, then consider a mid-size to large SUV, since they are the most versatile of all vehicles.
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  6. 6
    Will your teenager be driving the car
    ?
    If so, then safety and maneuverability are among your top concerns. Look for cars with high safety ratings and which are easy to drive. Opt for an automatic transmission over a manual one, as well.
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Costs of Ownership

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An important aspect to consider when choosing a car to purchase is the cost of ownership for that particular car. Some cars have a higher price tag than others, but end up costing less over their lifetime because of lower ownership costs. A great example of this is the hybrid. While hybrids are more expensive than cars that run on gasoline alone, they end up saving you money on gasoline in the long term, which for some, makes them a wise purchase.

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  1. 1
    Fuel
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    Fuel is a major operating cost for all gasoline powered vehicles, and some cars give you better fuel economy, and therefore cost less in gas than others. Smaller, lighter cars and hybrids get better gas mileage than larger and heavier vehicles.
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  2. 2
    Maintenance/repairs
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    Most modern vehicles are built well enough that you shouldn't have to worry about repair costs beyond regular maintenance. However, some cars cost more to maintain than others, for instance, as an extreme example, the air filter for a Ferrari is going to cost more than the air filter for a Honda. Likewise, even though today's cars are built quite well, you should always research the reliability of the car you are interested in.
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  3. 3
    Insurance
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    Insurance costs vary from vehicle to vehicle and depend on the vehicle's overall value, the cost to repair it, and how popular it is among car thieves. Obviously, the more expensive the car is overall, the higher the insurance premiums will be.
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  4. 4
    Depreciation
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    You've probably heard that the second you drive your car off the lot, it's worth less than what you paid for it. Sadly, it's true: once you leave the dealership, your brand new car becomes a used car and is now worth less than the identical model that's still sitting on the lot. But, the rate at which vehicles depreciate varies from model to model and type to type. For instance, trucks seem to depreciate the fastest, while cars and SUVs hold their value for longer.
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Obtain Financing

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If you're going to be buying new or a recent-model used car from a dealership, you'll most likely need to finance part of your purchase. While the dealership can obtain the financing for you and will have people on staff to help you do that, you can often get a better deal on interest and terms if you shop around on your own. Credit unions offer the best rates and terms, and if you're a Costco member, you can often get a great deal on auto financing through your membership.

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The Test Drive

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The test drive is your opportunity to see how the car handles and how it sounds when you're driving. You can see how it performs. It's also important to test drive more than one model before determining your preference.

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  1. 1
    Be up -front with the salesperson that you'll be test driving a few cars that day
    .
    Tell them that you aren't going to be making a purchase decision on the spot, but that you would like a test drive. If they don't seem interested in helping you, find another dealership.
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  2. 2
    Do your test-drive back-to-back on the same day
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    Your impressions of each car will be fresh on your mind, allowing you to easily compare the features and feel easy and with the most detail.
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  3. 3
    Put each car through its paces in similar conditions to what you'll be facing every day
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    If you do a lot of highway driving, be sure to take each vehicle out onto the highway. If you do a lot of city driving, venture out onto busy streets.
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Make your Decision

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Once you decide on which car you want, it's time to make the purchase. Of course, you now have to negotiate with the salesperson and their manager. Don't be afraid to negotiate aggressively: make them work to earn your business. If you have done your research, you know what the going rate for a particular model is and now is the time when you can use that knowledge to your advantage.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Automotive

Recent edits by: Kathy McGraw

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