Step 1. Assess Your Needs
The "right car" depends on who you are and what you expect from a car. Some of us like to make a statement with our cars ("I'm rich and hip" or "I'm earth-loving and retro"). Some like to go for spirited drives on weekends ("Give me more horsepower and a loud engine"). In those cases, practicality tends to take a back seat to how the car makes you feel.
But for those who need a vehicle for daily duties, functionality should be a prime need. Here are some practical considerations to keep in mind:
- How many passengers do you need to carry?
- What type of driving do you do? Is it primarily highway, surface streets, off-road?
- Do you have a long commute and, because of that, is fuel economy important to you?
- What are your must-have features? Think backup camera, leather seats, etc.
- What safety features are important to you? automatic emergency braking, for example?
- What cargo capacity do you need?
- Will you be using children's car seats?
- Will you be doing any towing?
- How much garage or parking space do you have?
Step 2. Set Your Budget
Unless you're paying cash for your car, you'll need to think about financing your purchase. How much can you really afford to allocate toward a car payment each month? The general rule is that your monthly new-car payment should not exceed 15 percent of your monthly take-home pay. You'll also want to factor in an additional 7 percent of your monthly income to cover fuel and insurance costs. Knowing your budget beforehand will help you when negotiating your next car.
Step 3. Consider Other Cars in the Class
Do you have your mind (or heart) set on a specific car? Many shoppers do. But in today's ever-changing marketplace, new cars are always hitting the showrooms, and one that you've never even considered could be right for you.
If you already have a car in mind, you should still review other comparable vehicles in the same class to make sure you haven't overlooked an even better choice. You can do this by choosing the same vehicle type, and setting the parameters that are important to you. Once you settle on a worthy prospect, you can easily check for detailed information on pricing, specifications and features.
Step 4. Set Up a Test Drive
Now that you've found a car that seems as if it might be a good fit for you, visit us , call, text or email us to schedule a day and time for a test drive.
By making a test-drive appointment with us, you ensure that the car will be waiting for you when you arrive. We recommend test-driving about three different vehicles so that you don't limit your options.
Step 5. What to Look For in a Test Drive
A car might seem to have all the features you want, but the true test takes place when you are in the driver's seat. You should test-drive the car the way you would drive it during your everyday life.
Get in and out of the car several times and be sure to sit in the back seat, especially if you plan on carrying passengers. Check out the cargo space. If you plan on using children's car seats, bring yours along to test for fit and ease of installation. Take pictures of the cars so you can reference them later.
While you are evaluating the car, don't be distracted. Take your time looking everything over. Our salesperson will respect your need to experience the car and will let you focus on the driving experience.
Turn off the stereo so you can listen to the sound of the engine. You can evaluate the sound system when you return to us.