There are few investments that matter to your overall lifestyle quite as much as a car does. For the vast majority of us, cars are going to be the second-highest expense of our lifetime, just behind paying off a mortgage or paying your rent. To that end, you want to make sure that your money is being spent on something that has some real practical value for you. For that reason, we’re going to take a closer look at what, exactly, should be on your mind when you’re looking to buy a car.
Where do you drive and what kind of car best suits it?
Different cars are well suited for different kinds of road, terrain, and navigation. As such, you should make sure that you’re always choosing a car that’s best suited to your environment. For instance, in cities where you might not have a lot of room to navigate, a smaller vehicle might be a more logical choice, whereas if you’re further out from the city, then you should look at a car’s highway MPG consumption rate. If you’re out in the country and likely to need to drive over rougher terrain, then you should also be considering features like all-wheel drive.
What kind of space do you need?
As well as where you’re going to be driving your car, then be sure to also give enough time and attention to who, or what, for that matter, is going to be inside the car. For instance, if you’re buying a family car, then not only do you want to make sure that you have enough space to bring the whole family with you (or as many as possible), then you also need to think about how much trunk space you’re going to need. The more kids, the more likely you are to need space to carry all of their stuff, whether it’s a sports kit, an instrument in a case, a lot of groceries, or otherwise.
How safe is it?
There’s no way around it, you need to consider the safety features of the car. You might not like thinking about the risk of collisions on the road, but you shouldn’t bury your head in the sand, either. When it comes to the safety of cars in a collision, for instance, then there are few ratings you can trust better than those of the NCAP, which effectively test how the car handles in a collision. As well as that, you should also be looking at the safety features that can prevent you from getting into a bad incident in the first place, such as auto-collision detection, anti-lock braking systems, stability control, and the effectiveness of the airbags, seatbelts, anti-shatter glass, and so on.
The reliability of the vehicle
Aside from wanting the car to protect you, your kids, and your possessions (easily the most important factor), you should also consider how well the car takes care of itself over the years. Of course, every car needs maintenance and if you fail to keep up with the logbook, it doesn’t matter how reliable the car is supposed to be. However, with the help of guides like the Reliability Index, you can not only see how long cars are likely to last but also which parts of them are most likely to fail first, which can give you an idea of how much you should set aside for repairs and replacements over the years.
Your most-wanted features
Let’s be real, it’s not all about practicality, either. There is a certain amount of love for your car that you want to have when you’re driving, and it’s natural to figure that out before you choose a car. As such, don’t just think about what your needs are, think about your wants, too. This might be choosing a drive that feels great, a car that looks fantastic, or features like leather seaters, a great infotainment system, and more. There’s nothing wrong with picking a car partly based on how much you like it, just make sure that it’s ranked sensibly within your priorities and not the main thing that you’re checking first and foremost.
How it fits your budget
Of course, as well as your needs and how practical the car is for your lifestyle, you also have to think about how practical it is for your finances. This includes not just how you pay for it, whether you’re able to raise the cash to pay for it outright or you need to take the time to find the right installment loans from places like Wise Loan to pay it down over time. It also includes whether or not your credit is in the right place to take on the loan that’s best for you, too. If your credit is in bad shape, for instance, you might want to consider getting a lower cost car even if you could take out a bigger loan, simply because it would be easier to pay.
How well you can keep paying for it
It’s not just your ability to pay for the car itself that is going to determine how financially sensible it is, either. You also have to consider all of the running costs that are going to come with it, as well. This includes things like how much fuel you can expect to pay for given how often you drive it, the maintenance costs, and how much you’re likely to pay for insurance. There are running cost calculators from websites like Financial Mentor that can help you see exactly how much you can really expect to pay for a car over time.
Whether to go new, used, or in between
A lot of the other factors already mentioned will weigh in this choice, but one of the first decisions you need to make is what market you’re going to end up buying the car from. There are advantages to buying new or buying used. Buying new is much more expensive, but you know that you’re getting a car in the very best condition that it’s ever going to be in, which can mean fewer maintenance costs for a while, and less of a chance of breaking down due to malfunction. The used car has the inverse properties, being cheaper but in worse condition. You can also, of course, go for a refurbished car, which is a used car that is specifically maintained and inspected to make sure it meets a certain standard of performance and condition.
What space you have
When you’re thinking about what size your vehicle should be, you should consider how much room you need, as well as the kind of environment that you’re going to be driving it around in. However, you should also be thinking about how much space you also have. After all, you’re going to need to be able to park it. It can be difficult to find the space for a Range Rover in the city, after all. Consider your parking space and whether you’re able to add a little more if you need it. If not, consider it to be the upper limit of the size of cars that you look at.
This is not a factor that is going to matter equally to everyone, so it needs to be stated that your mileage may vary (pun very much intended) when it comes to trying to choose a car that is as eco-friendly as you want it to be. One of the easiest ways to measure the environmental impact your car has is to look at its MPG, which is how quickly it consumes fuel. However, you might also want to look into cars that are manufactured with green technologies or priorities, as well as the possibility of buying an electric car, which is getting more popular as time goes on. Sites like Green Car Report can help you determine which cars are the greenest on the market at the moment.
Take it for a test drive
A car might have all of the features and functionality that you want, but you’re not going to know how you really feel about it until you get behind the wheel. There may be some quirks to how it handles that make it feel less reliable or less suited to your own driving style and experience, which means that how safe it is might still not make you feel comfortable and ensured. Make sure to test the car in a way that best suits the way that you drive regularly, too, such as driving the car in stop-and-go traffic if you commute regularly, or trying to find steep hills to climb if you drive out in the hilly countryside.
The above factors should all weigh in your decision when you’re buying a car. You need to think of its practical use, how it enhances your lifestyle, how safe it is, how financially sound it is, and more.