It’s time for a new car, but you may be unsure of how to start your search. You may have an idea of the kind of car you prefer and that could be a good start. But is this car that will serve you best? Here are some tips to help you decide which vehicle is right for you.

Determine Your Needs and Qualifications

What do you expect from a car? Initially, it is wise to ignore your materialistic desires. Instead of making a statement with your new car, like how much money you make, decide based off functionality. Questions to consider: What kind of commute will you be making each day? How many passengers will you need to provide for, and will you need to use car seats? What is your climate like? What are your must-haves, including safety features? These kinds of question will be able to give you a basic idea of the vehicle you want.

Time to Set Your Budget

Will you be paying cash? Financing? Acquiring a lease?  When looking to finance, a general rule is not to allow your monthly payment to be higher than 15% of your monthly take home pay. If you intend to lease, the monthly payment should not exceed more than 10% of your monthly pay. The extra will need to go towards fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs. Hopefully, you have a budget already worked out and you just need to adjust for a car payment and other accompanying fees. Decide what you can comfortably afford.

Consider Other Brands

Most car brands make very similar vehicles that vary in price. For example, Dodge, Honda, and Toyota all have a version of a minivan. Even if your budget is not what you’d like, you can likely still get a vehicle with most, if not all, of the features you want. Compare vehicles on consumer reports and Kelly Blue Book. While looking, you should also consider long term ownership costs. Pay attention to cars that depreciate faster than others and which ones might require more maintenance.

Shop Around

Shopping for cars has become a lot easier with the internet. You can browse hundreds of cars before even leaving the house. Hopefully, by now you have decided on a specific car or have a few that would be suitable for your needs. Find a few good deals to explore further. One might seem like a good deal at first, but with further investigation it will turn out to be too good to be true. Make multiple inquires.

The next few steps would be to take a test drive, search your vehicle on Car Fax, and negotiate your price. Find these tips in further depth here. Remember getting a new car is exciting! Follow these tips to make it as stress free as possible.

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