6 Steps to Finding the Right Car for Your Needs
The decision to buy a car can certainly feel intimidating, especially if you are a first-time buyer. For many Americans, buying a car is the second biggest financial investment they make next to their home. Even with aggressive financial incentives and discounts on offer being taken into account, it is still a lot of money that you will be spending on your car.
Your hard-earned cash should get spent on a car that can provide you value for years to come rather than the type that you come to regret later once the initial charm wears off. In this guide, we will be detailing the 6 steps to finding the right car for your needs. Continue reading.
Step 1: Set a Budget
The first and most important step is calculating a set budget for your car purchase and adhere strictly to it while you are out in the market. If you are financing your car instead of paying in cash, take caution in how much you can realistically expect to pay back on your loan monthly. As a rule of thumb, it should never exceed more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay.
Then you will also need to take into account the costs of monthly maintenance and fuel consumption as well as annual depreciation. On average, according to data from AAA, you can add roughly $700 to your monthly cost for owning a new vehicle. However, if you are opting for a used car, the monthly cost is less as its value depreciates more slowly and you pay less on it in taxes.
Step 2: Choose Between Opting for New or Used
Decide whether you would want to opt for a new car or a used one. Below is an overview of the pros and cons of both of these:
When you purchase a new car, there is no worry about a mistreated past. The odometer only clocks in a few miles with the car having come straight out of the factory.
Easier to Buy
The process of buying a new car is much easier. Just head to the dealership, pick the car you want and the dealers will do most of the paperwork for you.
Cheaper to Finance
Because there is absolute certainty on the collateral value of the car and fewer risks, most lenders are willing to finance your car at a lower interest rate.
Full Warranty Coverage
Most new cars come with bumper-to-bumper coverage that provides coverage for everything for at least three years or 36,000 miles.
Not only do new cars carry much heftier price tags but they also tend to be more expensive to maintain as well. As mentioned already, the deprecation rate is higher and so are the taxes you pay on it. In addition, your insurance premiums are also likely to be higher on average.
Way Less Expensive
You pay far less in upfront cost as well as benefit from less tax, a lower insurance premium, and a far slower rate of depreciation.
Less Financial Risk
Because the car’s value depreciates slowly and can even be potentially resold at a higher price, there is less chance of your car loan going underwater. Going underwater imply that is the value of what you owe is more than what the car is worth.
A Potentially Better Car
For the same as a new car, you can potentially get a far better car. A 2020 Toyota Corolla starts at $19,600. For that same amount, you can get a 2018 Acura TLX with premium options.
Higher Car Risks
Every used car history is different. Some had been well-maintained while others are just one component failure away from being totaled. However, the risks are less if purchased through a trusted dealer.
Don’t Come with Warranty Coverage
Most used cars don’t come with warranty coverage and you have to pay for repairs and maintenance out of the pocket.
More Expensive to Finance
Lenders will generally charge a higher interest rate on financing used cars.
Step 3: Decide If You Want to Lease or Buy
Both leasing and buying feature their own pros and cons. Which one is better is ultimately a matter of your personal preferences.
- You get to drive more expensive cars for the same budget
- Most repairs are covered in factory warranty
- No trade-in or reselling hassles to worry about.
- You cannot do make any modifications to the car
- Costlier option in the long run as you don’t own the car and have to give it back once the lease expires
- On average, you pay a higher insurance premium on leased cars
- You own the car and can do whatever you want with it.
- Less costly in the long run as you can resell it.
- On average, your insurance premium would be less
- On some fast depreciating models, the money you potentially save over the long term versus leasing isn’t significant.
- There are far a smaller number of vehicle choices that can fit your budget.
Step 4: Create a List of Your Needs and Expectations
Consider asking yourself what is the exact reason for buying a car? Is it to impress your peers? For everyday traveling purposes? For fun and recreation? For long trips across the country? Or, a bit of all four? Create a list of everything you want out of the vehicle and assign a number next to each one indicating how much you prioritize that particular aspect.
Answer the following questions and then do research online and check reviews to find which cars best align with your response.
1. How many passengers will I need to carry?
If you have a family or plan on having three or more adults in your car, a coupe would obviously be a terrible option. On the other hand, if you mostly drive alone, overpaying for a 6-seater wouldn’t make any financial sense.
2. How much cargo space do I need?
Do you shop daily, weekly, or once a month for groceries? Will you be looking to haul any hefty weight or large items in your car? Do you plan to do any towing? Properly assess your cargo capacity needs to determine what car type would be ideal for the purpose.
3. Will my height and frame be comfortably seated inside the car?
Since you could spend many hours a week driving your car, it is best that you don’t feel cramped in it or having difficulty reaching its various devices. Nowadays, you can find plenty of information online that can help you better assess how ergonomic a certain car model is for a person of your height and frame.
4. How long do I plan to own it before reselling?
If you are planning on keeping your car for quite a few years then consider ones that are reliable and slow to depreciate.
5. How are road conditions on which it will travel frequently?
Assess road conditions. Is the road well-paved or a level above a mud track? A Ford F150 and a Prius may have the same price range but you can’t take the Prius on a rough trip through the countryside.
7. Do I need the vehicle for long commutes or short ones?
If you have long commutes, your focus should be on vehicles with a better fuel economy.
8. How important do I rank my safety or those of my passengers?
Even cars of similar classes from different brands may have different levels of safety features. If you value safety highly, obviously the one with more features and higher safety ratings would be the better choice.
9. How easy would it be to find replaceable parts for the vehicle?
No matter how reliable a car, chances are, eventually some component of it would require replacement. Unless you live in a big city or have easy access to online service, stick to ones that whom parts are easy to find.
Step 5: Compare Deals
Thanks to the internet, it is very easy to find various deals on a car purchase or leasing. Once you have a clear idea of the type of car you want, check different dealerships or sellers online that are close to your area. If you don’t mind going through the hassle and cost of shipping, extend your searches to a larger geography. Compare the deals on offer and contact the seller and ask relevant queries about the car. While finding a good price is a priority, be wary, and grant greater scrutiny to any offer that might seem too good to be true. Chances are it probably might be.
Step 6: Conduct a Test Drive
Once you have selected the car deal that looks right to you, contact the seller and set up a test drive appointment. If it is a used car, be sure to come with an experienced mechanic. Drive the car around different settings; at speeds, over bumps, and around tight corners. Assess how it performs. If the car is used, give a thorough inspection of the car alongside your mechanic and ask the seller details about the car’s history. If you are satisfied with your evaluation, congratulations on finding that right car for your needs.
We hope you found this article helpful and a worthwhile read. Consider sharing it with others who may also find it useful. Be sure to also browse through our special deals if you have already decided on what type of car to buy.