In 2019, car dealers sold 17.1 million cars. Are you looking to be one of these people with a new ride? If so, you are probably wondering how to choose the right car for you.
Car shopping can be overwhelming. There are so many makes and models to choose from, so follow these simple steps to help you choose a car to fit your needs.
1. Determine Your Needs vs Wants
Before you begin, you need to know what you are looking for. The right car is the car that fits your needs. There are needs and wants when making your purchase.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How much space do you need
- Will you drive several miles and need fuel economy
- Do you need all-wheel drive
- Is this a family car
- What are your must-have features
- What kind of driving do you do
- How much cargo space do you need
- Do you want or need more power
- Are you planning to tow
Make a list and determine what you really need to fit your lifestyle. Will you commute several miles a day to work? Do you go off-roading?
Answering these questions will help you begin to limit your search as you are picking a car.
2. Set Your Budget
This is probably one of the biggest steps to buying a car. You need to figure out how much car you can afford. Using this calculation will help you limit your choices even more.
Don’t forget you need to think about other factors such as:
- Car insurance
When you add up all these costs and your car payment, you should be at about 20 percent or less of your income.
You will also need to consider new versus used. Some cars are cheaper to purchase, but more expensive to maintain if the miles are higher. This means you will need to figure out the true cost to own a vehicle when setting a budget.
3. Do Your Research
Just as you should with any other large purchase, do your research before you hit the car lot. This means you should check for any known problems with the make and model you are considering.
You can also get a good idea of what other consumers think just by reading various articles. Say you are interested in a Ford Ranger—check out this overview of Ford Ranger. You can also find a plethora of information on sites like Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and KBB.
You should also contact your insurance agent to get an idea of insurance costs. You don’t want to be surprised with a higher than anticipated insurance rate.
Having a good idea of what you want and what you can afford will arm with the right information on how to choose a car. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you as you shop and buy something that is not a good fit.
4. Determine How You Will Purchase
Another way to prepare yourself is to know how you will purchase the vehicle. Do you plan to finance or lease? Do you have a credit union you want to use?
If you want to lease, you can get a more expensive car, but you do not have any flexibility to modify the car. Also, you will turn in your car after the lease, so you will not be able to sell it. However, if you prefer a new car every few years, this may be the option for you.
You will have limits on your mileage for leasing, so it is very important to determine your driving habits.
If you want to purchase a vehicle, you can modify it as you choose and not have to worry about mileage. This may be a good option if you drive a considerable amount. You could save money in the long run if you pay off your loan and keep your vehicle for a while.
5. Test Drive
Once you have it narrowed down, it’s time to take the car for a drive. You can set up an appointment with a dealership and the car will be ready and waiting for you to take it out for a joyride.
You should drive at least three other vehicles so you can have something to compare. You don’t want to limit your options. Try a couple of other cars in the same class.
6. What You Should Look For When Driving
Even if the car checks off everything on your list, the true test is how you feel driving it. You should drive the car as you would in everyday life.
If you drive on the highway mostly, be sure to take it to highway speeds to make sure you are satisfied with acceleration. Take it through town if you are normally in stop and go traffic. Feel how the car brakes, handles corners, and drives over bumps.
Try getting in and out of the car. You may also want to check out the passenger and back seats to make sure the room is adequate. If you have children, you can even bring car seats with you to make sure they fit without issue.
Take your time evaluating the car. You need to get experience with the vehicle to make sure it fits your needs. Try out the radio and the heating and cooling system to make sure they work to your standards.
You also want to see how you can reach all the controls. Do you feel comfortable operating the vehicle?
7. Picking a Car
Now that you have gone through all these steps, it’s time to make your decision. You don’t have to decide on the spot. It may be a good idea to sleep on it to make sure you feel the same way the next day.
Most cars today have great safety features, gas mileage, and amenities. The final decision is basically a matter of your individual taste and budget.
How to Choose the Right Car Final Thoughts
Now that you know how to choose the right car, you can start your car shopping. This experience should be fun. Take your time and get ready to show off your new ride.
Looking for other articles like this? Check out our site for other shopping advice and also additional car advice in our Cars section.