Back in 2000, there were only about 200 car models for people to choose from. But today, that number has swelled to nearly 300 car models. And the number could grow to be even higher in the coming years as auto manufacturers unveil new electric and self-driving options.
This is making it more and more difficult for people to figure out what car to buy. Since there are so many different car models available, they really have to do their homework ahead of time to find the car that’s best for them.
Are you in the process of working your way through this right now? Take a look at 7 tips that’ll help you decide what car to buy.
1. Begin by Coming Up With a Budget
On average, Americans are spending more than $35,000 these days to purchase a new car. That typically works out to somewhere between $500 and $600 per month when a car is financed.
Can you afford to spend that kind of money on a new car, or do you want to go with something that’s used instead to cut your costs?
Regardless, you should always begin the car-buying process by coming up with a budget for yourself. Take a look at what you’re spending in other areas of your life and figure out how much you can afford to devote to car payments.
2. Consider What You’ll Use a Car For
Once you’ve crunched the numbers and decided how much you can spend on a car, the next step will be to consider what you’re going to use the car for once you buy it. Are you going to use your new car to:
- Drive yourself to and from work every day?
- Make deliveries on behalf of your business?
- Shuttle your kids around to their sports games and tournaments every weekend?
- Pick up passengers as a driver for a ridesharing company?
- Unwind with the occasional weekend drive?
If your car is going to be used primarily for commuting to and from work, something that gets great gas mileage is probably ideal. But if your car is going to be used to take your kids to all their various sporting events, something that will fit them (and at times, their teammates!) is likely what you’ll want to buy.
By coming up with a plan for your car, you can find something that will fit your lifestyle and meet your specific needs.
3. Think About How Big a Car Needs to Be
After you’ve figured out what you’re going to use your car for, you’ll have a pretty easy time deciding how big your car needs to be. This is important because you’ll be able to shop for everything from small two-seaters to gigantic vans when you’re looking for a new car.
Think about how big your car is going to need to be, especially if you have a big family that needs plenty of extra space inside a vehicle. The last thing you want to do is invest in a car that turns out to be too tiny and force your family to cram into it for the next five or six years.
4. Figure Out Which Features You Want
One of the things you’re going to find when shopping for cars is that they have so many different features tucked into them these days. Even relatively basic cars come with a long list of features that make them sound enticing.
Before you get overwhelmed with your options, generate a list of features that are important to you in a car. Here are some of the more popular features found in many of today’s vehicles:
- Power seats
- Forward-collision warning
- Backup camera
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Automatic emergency braking
- And more!
There are literally dozens and dozens of car features for you to choose from, which is why it’s so important to find the features that matter most to you and list them. It’ll help you narrow down your car search more quickly.
5. Keep Car Maintenance in Mind
If you’re purchasing a new car, you might not think that maintenance is something you have to spend too much time worrying about. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Studies have shown that the average new car owner spends more than $1,100 per year maintaining a car. And that cost will go up over time as a car gets older and needs to have more maintenance and repairs done to it.
If you have a particular car in mind that you’re thinking about buying, you should poke around and see how much people who own that type of vehicle tend to pay for maintenance every year. You can usually find out how much maintenance you’ll be expected to do on different cars by doing some research right on the internet.
6. Remember Resale Value
No matter how much you love the car that you eventually buy, you’re not going to keep it forever. The average person keeps a car for about 7 years before trading it in or selling it.
With that in mind, you should keep the potential resale value of a car in mind before buying it. Look for a car that you’ll be able to sell for a decent price later when you decide that you don’t want it anymore.
7. Spend Lots of Time Shopping Around
A decade or two ago, it took a lot of effort to shop for cars. You had to drag yourself and your family down to a car dealership and spend an entire afternoon looking around at cars to try and find something you wanted.
But these days, it’s simpler than ever to shop around for great deals on cars. You can browse through a dealer’s inventory right online in most cases and pick out exactly what you want before you ever come into contact with a car salesperson.
Take advantage of your ability to do this and spend as much time as you possibly can shopping for cars online. It’ll allow you to track down the kind of car you want at a price you can afford.
Decide What Car to Buy Today
Figuring out what car to buy can be stressful. Some surveys have even suggested that it can be more stressful than planning a wedding.
But you can take some of the stress out of the equation by using the tips listed here. They’ll allow you to find the car you want quickly and help you avoid pulling your hair out in the process.
Read our blog to learn about more things you’ll need to know when buying a car.