How to Pick the Right Car for Your Needs

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.

, - October 5, 2018

There isn’t a set way to choose the right car. Everyone’s needs and wants are different, but there are a few things to think about before taking the plunge.

Things to Do Before Buying a Car

Picking the right vehicle takes time. Before a car buyer heads to a dealership, here are four basic things they should look into before making a purchase decision:

  1. Assess your needs – Is this car for you and your family? What kind of weather or terrain do you drive on on a daily basis? How important is fuel economy? What’s the vehicle’s reliability rating? There are lots of specifics you need to ask yourself when buying a car. Knowing what you want out of your next vehicle saves time when you go to a dealer.
  2. Set a budget – How much money do you want to put toward the car? For this, you need to look past the MSRP, as there are more costs associated with buying a vehicle than its price tag. You can use online tools and calculators to help you see what you could afford.
  3. Research – While you set a budget and consider the type of car you want, you can do further research. Look up everything about the vehicle you want, as well as any other possible cars you’re considering. This is especially important if you’re buying used. You want to be as informed as possible before making the purchase.
  4. Test drive – Once you do the research and are set on it, head to a dealer and test drive it. If it’s new, make sure you feel comfortable behind the wheel and can easily drive it. If it’s used, pay extra attention to how it drives, and look and listen for anything faulty.

Things You Must Consider Before Buying New

When you’re considering financing a new car, you have two major things to choose from: do you lease, or do you buy? Both are viable options, but what you qualify for and what you need, can determine whether leasing or buying is right for you.

In leasing, you get to borrow a brand new vehicle for a set amount of time – usually 36 months – and can return it, buy it, or lease another new car at the end of the term. Compared to financing, leasing a car is cheaper because you’re only paying for the vehicle’s depreciation during the term, interest charges, taxes, and fees. But leasing is harder to qualify for and is usually only offered to borrowers with excellent credit. On top of that, leased cars come with mileage limits and excess wear and tear fees.

In financing with an auto loan, you own the car and can do what you please with it. There’s no limit to how many miles you can put on it, or any wear and tear fees. But, the monthly payment is typically higher when you take out an auto loan. This is because you’re paying off the entire price of the vehicle, interest, taxes, and fees. But, unlike with a lease, you can put money down and lower the overall cost of the loan and monthly payment. With a lease, putting money down doesn’t help save you money on the car – you’re just prepaying the lease.

Things You Must Consider Before Buying Used

If you know you want to buy a used vehicle, you should first research where you want to buy it from: a private party or a dealership. From there, you should do these two things before finalizing the purchase:

  1. Check the vehicle history report – Make sure you know everything there is to know about the vehicle’s history. Has it been in any accidents? Does it have any titles? How many miles are recorded? These are a few of many questions you need to ask yourself about the car. You can visit sites like CarFax or the free site VinCheck to get a full vehicle history report. If the car isn’t listed, you can ask the dealer for a copy of the vehicle’s history report.
  2. Get the vehicle inspected – Once you checked everything out and gave it a test drive, make sure to get a pre-purchase inspection so a certified mechanic gets a look at it. Everything may feel and look ready to go, but a mechanic is able to look closer under the hood and detect any issues you can’t see or feel.

It’s important you don’t overlook these two things. If you don’t know where the car’s been or what’s been done to it, you could put yourself in a bad position down the road financially.

The Bottom Line

Before visiting a dealership, there are a number of things consumers should consider as they go through the car buying process. What they may think works best for them could actually hurt their finances or steer them to the wrong vehicle. Take some time to really research and look at the car in-depth before signing any paperwork.

If you’re ready to begin the car buying process but are struggling with bad credit, let CarsDirect guide you. We work with a nationwide network of dealers that have the lending resources available to help. Our process is free of cost and obligation. Get started today by filling out our online auto loan request form.

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.

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