Choose the Right Car for You
Being presented with a wide array of choices in cars can both be a good and bad thing. Good because you have a lot of options to choose from and bad because of these many options, you may find it overwhelming to choose which car will be appropriate for you. When it comes to choosing a car, there are various things to consider, and some questions to ask yourself.
What Are You Looking For in a Car?
- Ask yourself three questions to narrow down your choices and find the one car you’re looking for. This section details each question.
- Ask yourself what kind of car you want. According to car experts, considering what you like and dislike can help to narrow down your choices. For instance, if you like sports car, then look for sports car. There’s no need to waste your time and energy searching for SUV’s, etc.
- Ask yourself what you need by way of performance, space, etc. in the car. If you like a sports car but this sports car will not fit your needs, scratch the sports car. If you are planning on building a big family, opt for bigger cars unless of course if you have the money to afford to buy many cars, then it would be fine.
- If you are a construction worker and need space to transport logs and huge pieces of wood and stuff, then a pickup truck will be right for you.
- Ask yourself who will be your passengers. This is especially important for those who have a big family who have kids with them on car seats. More space is needed if you are carrying your whole family with you so a car with more space inside is preferable.
- If only you are going to drive that car, and you are not going to transport more than one person somewhere, a two-seater should be fine. Consider, however, that a smallish back seat adds little or nothing to the cost and fuel consumption of the car, allows the passenger seat to recline more, and greatly increases cargo capacity (sometimes with the seats dropping and connecting to the trunk). A two-seater is more for extreme compactness, style and handling than lack of need of a rear seat.
- If you usually transport 3-4 people but don't need that much trunk space, a compact to mid-size should be fine.
- If you usually transport around 4 people and need lots of trunk space, then you should get a full-size sedan, a minivan, or an SUV. A minivan is roomiest of these and more efficient than the SUV; some have a stretched nose to look less minivan like. A full-size sedan is most comfortable, particularly a factory-stretched long-wheelbase version such as a Lincoln Town Car Executive L or Signature L, and often designed for strenuous limousine service. An SUV often has four wheel drive and is good, at low speed, for poor road conditions.
- If you have a large family and/or regularly transport about 5-6 people, get a van or minivan. A minivan can be safer in that it has a low center of gravity almost like a car.
- Check your budget. Before going to the showrooms for test drives and car checks, have a primary budget in mind. This will help you to remain reasonable about the choices and not give in to a car you really cannot afford. If you're on a Suzuki or Hyundai budget, it'll help you not to tiptoe toward an Audi or Mercedes.
- Consider fuel efficiency. If you need a fuel-efficient car, a hybrid will be right for you. You'll want to consider however whether it is worth it or not. If you have a commute longer than thirty miles to work daily, or if you spend a great deal of a short commute in traffic every morning, then hybrids are a great option versus economy sized four cylinder cars. Extra cylinders and displacement greatly decrease fuel economy overall, and extra frontal area greatly decreases fuel economy at speed. A long, low car such as a big sedan or wagon with a relatively small, cheap engine can be stylish, comfortable and safe.
- For a personal, urban car, petrol or gas is best over diesel.
- Decide on new or used. This can be directed by your budget and also your common sense. In some cases, used cars offer better value but they do require careful checking by an expert, especially to certify that the car hasn't experienced an accident, or has been properly repaired if it has been in one.
- Make use of car review websites. Checking a relevant local car review website (or several) will give you the lowdown on the features, appearance, performance stats and other vital information. You'll be able to see what other people and experts have been thinking about the cars in question and also see what potential issues there might be.
- Reviews from owners are more realistic and honest than those from the salesroom are likely to be. You'll learn the disadvantages as much as the advantages.
- Wait before buying. If the car has only just been released, avoid being an early adopter. Wait for a few months or so to see what happens to its on-road value and to read reviews from the owners.
- Make an Excel spreadsheet covering all the things that matter to you. Add in the information gleaned from the website searches too. You will be able to see, at a glance, what the benefits and drawbacks of each car type is.
- Check with family members who might be using the car. They'll have their own ideas and preferences to take into account too, especially if the car is to be shared and driven by more than just you.
- Just remember, when buying a car to always think about your future and not just consider your present needs.
- Always test drive before buying. Buying sight unseen isn't advised.
- Consider the law of diminishing returns. A mid-size family car is overall much more comfortable than an economy car--although even economy cars in recent years are just somewhat stylish, not really bad. A high-performance car will cost much more and trade off durability and economy of parts and consumables such as tires for noticeably, though not shockingly, more acceleration, shininess, etc. (This is more about luxury sedans; real sports cars such as Corvettes and Porsches are much better at being exciting but very bad for most practical purposes.)
- A very low car such as some roadsters can slide under some trucks, crashing the passenger compartment rather than the reinforced front end into them at high speed. A somewhat low car such as some economy or sporty cars can have a relatively low front bumper, wrecking the front end rather than the bumper (or bumping the bumper non-destructively) in a low-speed crash.
- SUV's are gas guzzlers, so you may want to wait and pay extra for a hybrid SUV in order to have savings in the future.
Things You'll Need
- Money: Options are either a lot of it, a good credit line (important for financing), a pre-approved loan or simply a big down payment that will convince the dealer you mean business!
- Buy a Car Seat
- Buy a Full Size Sedan
- Buy a Fuel Efficient SUV
- Buy a Minivan
- Decide Whether to Lease or Buy a Car
- Save for a New Car
- Check out a Used Car Before Buying It
- Test Drive a Car
- Sell Your Car Privately
Sources and Citations
- http://www.fueleconomy.gov, tips on finding your fuel mileage and database that has the averages of many vehicles.
- Kelly Blue Book, a database of a vast list of vehicles and pricing information.
- DriverSide has pricing information and cost of ownership.
- Edmunds has pricing data and information how to shop for cars.