I often get asked by family and friends to advise them when they are considering purchasing a new vehicle. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle, and there are measures you can take to make your purchase more rewarding and less painful. I hope the information provided below will help guide you with your purchase decision.
The first step is to narrow your search of vehicles by finding the best candidates that fit your needs. Determine what your true needs are versus your just wants. The biggest mistake I see people make is selecting vehicles outside of their means because of a current trend or style. Ask yourself the following questions:
— What will the vehicle primarily be used for?
— What type of driving do you do (city or highway, on-road or off-road)?
— How many people will be riding with you
— In order of importance, how would you rank performance, reliability, economy, safety and style.
The next step is calculating what you can afford. Most auto finance companies will limit your monthly car payment to 20 percent to 25 percent of your monthly income and want to see your total debts less than 50 percent of your total income. Determine whether leasing or financing makes the most sense for you.
Benefits of leasing include:
— Little money up front and lower monthly payments.
— The ability to choose terms based on your driving habits and mileage
— Getting get a new car every few years
— Returning the vehicle at the end of the lease term without trading.
Benefits of financing include:
— No mileage restrictions
— The ability to take advantage of available low rates, increased incentives and available rebates,
— Lower insurance required
— Owning the vehicle at the end of the finance term.
The third step is to do your research. Pick a vehicle and compare it to other vehicles in its class. Consider the pricing, equipment, available options and cost of ownership. Consider what experts and owners are saying about the vehicles you are considering. Research dealerships in your area by checking online reviews and asking friends and family for recommendations.
Next, evaluate vehicles with product demonstrations and test drives. Spend enough time with the vehicles you are considering to make sure they fit your needs. Consider features such as head room, leg room, cargo space, ease of controls and convenience features.
After you have done a complete walk-around, test-drive the vehicle. Take your test drive on both city and highway streets. Examine factors such as ride comfort, handling, cornering, braking, road noise and acceleration.
Once you have done your homework and found the right vehicle for you and your budget, finalizing the purchase should be slightly less agonizing. A good deal is different for each person, but price is seldom the sole reason for purchasing. As with any purchase, you will feel better about the decision if the perceived value exceeds the price.
If you have accomplished the above, you have purchased wisely.
Jamaal McCoy is the general manager of Findlay Chevrolet, 6800 S. Torrey Pines Drive near the intersection of the Las Vegas Beltway and South Rainbow Boulevard.