There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to buying a vehicle. Figuring out what’s best for your budget and what fits your needs is a good place to start if you want to whittle down your options.

Red Car

New or pre-owned

If you’re hoping for a lot of features without a hefty price tag, buying a preowned vehicle might be right for you. Russ Heaps at Bankrate cites lower insurance costs and registration fees as other good reasons for buying used. On the other hand, if buying a new vehicle is within your budget, it can also have its advantages. Matt Smith at CarGurus says there are many benefits to buying a brand new car, including the warranty. He says, “Although Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle warranties can make a used car appealing, new-car warranties are universally better. A standard CPO warranty might offer you 12 months or 12,000 miles of coverage, but it’s rare to find a manufacturer selling new vehicles with less than a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.”

Safety Ratings

Some people are more cautious drivers than others. Whether you obey all the speed limit signs or not, car safety ratings should be a factor when you’re searching for your next set of wheels. The National Highway Safety Administration conducts crash testing on vehicles and rates the models with a 5-star system. They work “to provide consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what is required by Federal law.” You can research the safety of vehicles, car seats, and tires here. Drew Dorian at Car and Driver recently compiled a list of cars with the best safety ratings. 

Gas, Electric, or Hybrid

A gas engine is an old reliable, but fuel can fluctuate in price and some folks may be looking for something more environmentally friendly. Doug DeMuro at Autotrader says the biggest difference between electric and hybrid cars, is that hybrid plugs-ins have “an electric motor that lets drivers go a certain limited distance (often between 30 and 40 miles), and there’s a normal gasoline engine that kicks in once the electric motor is depleted. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, are fully electric, meaning they don’t use any gasoline.”

Electric Car

Size

Do you need something that’ll tow another vehicle? Do you have a large family? Or are you a single person who rarely rides others around? Your needs all depend on what you’re going to be doing day to day. If you drive a small army of children to school on the daily, a van may be right for you, but someone who rides around looking for discarded curbside treasure to refurbish may be more into a pickup truck. If you have a long commute to work, you may want to consider gas mileage and comfort a lot more than someone who only drives short distances.

Doing a little homework before you start talking to a car sales associate can go a long way. Happy car shopping.