What Vehicle is Right for You?

Seven steps for finding your perfect car

Finding the “perfect”carBuying3_Featured vehicle sounds quite cut-and-dry, but there is actually a lot more involved in the process than pointing out a car that looks pretty. In fact, there is no “perfect” vehicle, but there very well could be one that is perfect for you. Follow the tips below from Edmunds.com’s Senior Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed to pick a new or used car, truck, SUV or van that will best suit you for years to come.

1. Assess your needs. Be practical. As Reed says, “Functionality should trump flash.” Consider the present and future answers to questions such as:
How many passengers do you need to carry? What type of driving do you do — highway, city, off-road, all weather? Do you have a long commute necessitating better fuel economy? What safety/cargo features are important to you? How much garage or parking space do you have?

2. Set a budget. Before you even lay eyes on a vehicle, you will need to discern your budget, and not just for the car. Figuring out how much you pay per month for other things (i.e. rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) compared to your income will give you an idea of what you can afford toward a car payment. Reed recommends a general rule of no more than 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay should go toward your vehicle payment, otherwise you are foolishly overpaying.

3. Compare leasing and buying. This is another aspect that is not ‘one answer fits all.’ Each options carries pros and cons. For example, a lease requires little or no money down and offers lower monthly payments, yet when the lease ends, you have to start the shopping process all over again. On the other hand, buying a car is more costly up front, and the monthly payments are a bit higher, but when the loan is paid off, you own that vehicle outright. That is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many other advantages and disadvantages of each to consider.

4. Consider all the costs of ownership. Think long-term. It may be true that a car, especially a pre-owned one, may be cheap to buy, but it can also be expensive to own. Therefore, before signing on the dotted line for anything, estimate ownership costs for the long haul. This includes depreciation, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs.

5. Look at other cars in the class. Say you see a car on the street that strikes your fancy. It happens a lot. Nowadays, dealerships and other companies in the auto dealership have a plethora of tools that help you identify, research and compare that vehicle that was “love at first sight” to others that are similar but may be a better fit for you.

6. Set up a test drive. This is one of the most important parts of your vehicle search. After you scour the Internet for the vehicle you like, call or visit the dealership to schedule a test drive.

“By making a test-drive appointment, you ensure that the car will be waiting for you when you arrive,” explained Reed.

While on the test drive, you need to know what to look for. Drive it like you would during your every day life, be that in mountainous terrain or stop-and-go traffic. Try out each seat for comfort that meets your standards. Feel carefully for the smoothness of the ride, and keep the radio off while driving so as to listen for the engine hum.

7. Make your choice and sign for it. If your choice isn’t clear after test driving several cars (never try out just one; you need to compare), sleep on it. If you still can’t decide, go back to the drawing board and rethink your priorities.

But if you think you’ve found your perfect car after following steps 1-7, grab the keys and hit the open road. And as always, contact us today to help get the right financing for whatever you’re looking for.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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