|From selecting optional equipment to choosing extended service plans,
buying a new vehicle involves making decisions based on many factors. We
have created some guidelines that will hopefully help make those
decisions easier for you.
Let's begin with your choosing The Right Vehicle for you. To be able to make good choices it is always a good idea to start by finding out what your needs are - and then finding the best vehicle to match those needs.
We'll begin this process with some questions that will help you focus your ideas about which vehicle matches your lifestyle.
Where do you live?
Location can play a major role in your vehicle choice, especially when choosing the size you feel most comfortable with. An example would be choosing a vehicle with a larger engine, which is suited for long distance traveling (such as a salesman), while choosing a smaller engine would be the most likely choice for those living in the city, because they don't need to travel as far.
Another important consideration is available parking space, the height of your garage (clearance) or any other constraints that might be imposed on you, depending on where you'll be parking your vehicle once it's yours.
What kind of driving demands will you place on your vehicle?
You should also consider driving demands. For example, if you live in mountainous or snowy climates, you want a strong engine, as well as a vehicle equipped with four-wheel drive.
If your daily commute takes a while, you may also want to consider a vehicle that is fuel-efficient. Usually a car's window sticker will show clearly how much gas mileage can be expected for any given make or model.
Also, if you are often stuck in traffic during your daily commute, you may want to consider an automatic transmission as opposed to a manual transmission. If you frequently take weekend road trips, speed control can help you maintain set road speeds.
Do you travel alone, or with others?
The number of people you usually need to get into your vehicle, whether you are a family or a couple or single, will give you a strong indication of what size you'll need. You can also choose between a two-door or a four-door in many models. Also think about your lifestyle possibly changing (a couple has a child, for example) while you still own the car.
Are you an outdoor enthusiast, or driving your kids to sports events?
Sports and/or camping, for example, can also play a large role in which vehicle best suites your lifestyle. More trunk space or a larger cargo space for gear or bulky equipment should also be considered. Would you be hauling bicycles on the back or top? Will you be towing a boat or a trailer? Then you may want to consider more towing power, which is afforded through a larger engine.
Options and features
Always ask about what options and/or standard features are offered in the vehicle you choose. This can greatly influence the price. Some models have a larger selection of standard features than others, which will cost you less. Optional equipment like sunroofs or power lumbar support are nice to have, but weigh your needs or "financial abilities" against your desires.
The handling and performance of your vehicle
Various factors like acceleration, braking, cornering, and emergency handling are all worth looking into, as they can determine the outcome of a dangerous situation, or the comfort you feel when behind the wheel. For example, your being able to comfortably accelerate out onto a highway into fast moving traffic. High horsepower is an indication of high performance. Other performance indicators are torque, good suspension, types of tires, and even airflow (influenced by the car's streamlining, or overall design) add to a vehicle's handling ability.
Test reports for braking performance, emergency handling, visibility, and seat comfort can be found on the Internet supplied by third-party sources and consumer advocate groups.
The Safety Factor of your vehicle
Crash test results will help you compare vehicle safety between the various models found on the market today. These results provide information about how well a vehicle can protect drivers and their passengers in a frontal or side collision. Be advised that crash test results only help when comparing vehicles that are the same, or similar in size.
To find crash test results, contact The National Traffic Highway Safety Commission's (NHTSA) Auto Safety Hotline: 888-DASH-2-DOT or find results online at www.nhtsa.gov.
Some of the features you'll want to ask about:
- Occupant safety features (safety belts, front, side or ceiling airbags, child safety seats, head restraints, etc.) help reduce the risk of injuries during a crash.
- Crash avoidance features include traction control and All-Wheel Drive (AWD), which may help drivers avert an accident.
Are you an environmentally-responsible person and want a vehicle matching those criteria?
If so, then smaller, lighter vehicles which conserve fuel much better than the larger ones, will give you better gas mileage. At the Environmental Protection Agency website you can compare vehicles' fuel emissions against each other. You can also find a complete vehicle emissions guide with the EPA.
The sticker found on new cars will also give you a good indication of the expected mileage for any particular model.
Your vehicle's future resale value
You may be considering reselling your vehicle in the future, or trading it in on another, newer model. If so, you might want to look at some features that will increase a vehicle's resale value. Some of those items might be: air conditioning, automatic transmission, power steering, speed control, or a sunroof.