You need wheels to get around. Without a great car, you’d have trouble getting to work every day—to say nothing of your trips to vacation hotspots, family visits, and other big destinations! That’s why you’re in the market for your next car, truck, SUV, minivan, or crossover. But as you begin to plot your next moves, you’ll enter a car-buying process that many Americans consider stressful and upsetting. It doesn’t have to be this way: If you plan carefully and take the right things into consideration, you can make the process of buying your next car a whole lot easier.
The key to a low-stress car shopping experience is to know that you’re making the right decisions. The key to knowing that you’re making the right decisions is to do careful research before you buy. And the key to smart research, in turn, is to know what questions to ask. That’s why we’re here today to talk about some of the most important considerations that you’ll want to weigh as you consider your next vehicle purchase.
Should you buy new or used?
It’s the age-old car-buying question: Should you buy a new or used vehicle?
Both have their merits. A new vehicle is, of course, virtually guaranteed to be in pristine condition. Since you’ll have the vehicle from day one, you’ll be able to ensure that it gets the proper care that it needs, which will give you the best possible chance of keeping the car on the road in top condition for as long as possible. But a new car is pricey, and cars depreciate quite a bit at the very moment that they are driven off the dealership lot.
A used car can be quite a bit cheaper, but it will also, by definition, be older. A very old used car may be run-down, and you may end up paying more to keep it up.
If you’re on a budget but not looking for the cheapest car possible, you may want to consider a lightly-used vehicle. Buying a relatively new model gives buyers the best of both worlds: A lower asking price and a relatively modern, reliable vehicle. Of course, the debate rages on. You’ll have to do your research and decide for yourself.
What’s in a brand name?
Car manufacturers stake their reputations on their products. It’s not just cars and trucks, of course: A manufacturer like Honda makes everything from motorcycles to lawn equipment point out experts who offer new Honda power equipment for home and commercial use. Some motor vehicle manufacturers, by contrast, specialize in very specific types of cars—you won’t find Ferrari making a pickup truck, for instance. But no matter how you slice it, brand names do matter. The manufacturer of your next vehicle will affect more than just the logo on the grille!
Look for a manufacturer that creates vehicles you like in styles you appreciate. Consider the impact that your vehicle manufacturer’s choice will have on things like the affordability of spare parts (and even tires—some luxury brands use special tires that are hard to replace quickly or on the cheap). Will you have to go to a special mechanic to care for this car? How will the brand you choose affect the resale value?
What will the future hold?
Speaking of resale values, it’s important to know how your car will depreciate. With very rare exceptions, all cars and trucks drop in value over time. But how fast they drop in value can make a big difference to you if and when you sell or trade-in your vehicle someday down the line. Do research online to see how certain makes and models age and how fast vehicles that you’re considering are expected to depreciate.
Should you shop for your next car online?
As you research your next vehicle, you’re going to be understandably focused on what you’re buying. But where you’re buying can be important, too!
Americans hate the dealership model, and for good reason. Pushy salespeople at dealerships can make car buying a nightmare, especially when you don’t know as much as they do about the cars and trucks you’re looking at—which, unfortunately, is almost always the case. That’s why you may want to consider buying your car online instead. With online shopping, doing more research is as simple as opening up another browser window. Plus, auction sites like Auto Auction Mall will give you a chance to bid on vehicles and snipe great deals that dealership shoppers can only dream of.