3 Important Things to Look at When Buying a New Car
Purchasing a new car is one of the largest purchases that a person or family can make. According to the Federal Trade Commission, purchasing “a new car is second only to a home as the most expensive purchase many consumers make.” Choosing a vehicle that is safe, reliable and comfortable is important for this investment. Some of the legwork can – and should – be done before you ever leave the house. Then, once you've narrowed down your options, it's time to head out for test drives. Be sure to test drive several vehicles, even if you think you know which one is right for you. Not every interior is going to fit you just like not every pair of jeans, although the right size, don't fit well. When you choose the right fit for you, be sure to take a longer test drive. Pile in car seats if applicable, and drive the vehicle over various surfaces. Do a quick spin on the highway to make sure it has the get-up-and-go you need, and take a trip through some beat-up bumpy streets to be sure the suspension is what you need.
When you're researching, be sure to focus on the 3 important things to look at when buying a new car – safety, reliable and comfortable.
Search for all 5-star rated vehicles, narrow it by body style or search for specific makes and models. Pay attention to the results. For 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees, for example, there are 4 options – 2WD Early Release, 4WD Early Release, 2WD Later Release and 4WD Later Release. Of these, only the 4WD Later Release receives a 5-star rating due to improvement in rollover and frontal crash ratings. Safecar.gov may also recommend optional equipment to keep you safe, such as rear view video systems, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
When you've narrowed down your choices by safety, turn your focus to reliability. This is, after all, a large investment of money. You want to make sure that the vehicle will last and hold its value. To get an idea of resale value, search for prices of used cars of the same make and model. Although the prices can vary significantly based on options, trim packages and miles driven you'll have an idea of how much your car will be worth in a few years.
Another important aspect of reliability is the warranty offered by the manufacturer. Look at specific details – a 100,000 mile warranty that covers just engine and transmission is good, but one that also covers suspension and the clutch is better. A graduated warranty may also be in place – one that covers the car, bumper to bumper, for a certain length of time, after which only major components are covered. Factor in how long you expect to keep the vehicle. Other concerns include the amount of the deductible and where service can be performed.
A family of five uses a vehicle differently than a single person. Things like car seats, groceries and car pools need to be factored in when shopping for a family ride. Does everyone fit comfortably? Is there room for a friend or two? Aside from passenger comfort, the person who will most often be driving the vehicle needs to feel comfortable with the “cockpit” design and function. Are controls strategically placed to reduce distraction from the road? Are the seat and steering wheel column able to adjust to make all drivers comfortable behind the wheel? If it's a one-vehicle household with more than one driver, consider an option that allows for more than one driver setting to be programmed. Then, by just the push of a button, your seat, steering column, and even mirror settings can be recalled. It may seem like a trivial detail, but if you're 6'4” and you're wife is 5'4”, she'll appreciate the convenience and you can stop hitting your knees every time you get in after she drives.
When you start shopping for a new car, remember to start with the basics from home. Save yourself the traumatic brain injury associated with dealing with the pros at a dealership by being an informed consumer.