Whatever reason you drive for, it is likely to have a huge impact on your car buying decision. When it comes to replacing your vehicle, asking yourself “what kind of car should I get?” is probably the ideal place to start. In the following article, we aim to shed some light on the logic and emotion that goes into buying a car and in doing so, provide some helpful and informative car buying tips.
Deciding What Kind of Car is Right for Me
Despite many drivers making their car buying choices based on a fine-tuned balance of “head and heart”, logic has to enter into the equation at some point especially if you are on a limited budget. Bearing that in mind, it figures that drivers are likely to make the best-informed vehicle buying decisions after answering the question “what kind of car should I get?” Or more appropriately, perhaps they should be considering instead asking “which is the best car for me?”
Who is it for?
While every single car on offer for sale is capable of taking you from A to B, different types and models, however, provide differing benefits above and beyond just getting you into the office or dropping the kids off at school every working day of the week. Deciding on the primary use or purpose that your next car is going to fulfil should, therefore, be a key factor in your final buying decision. Putting the above into an extreme context would be where, for example, you might ask yourself “what kind of car should I buy for family use?”, arrive at a logical decision, and then go and buy a 2-seater sports car instead. Not the best idea for the identified main use of the car!
What car will suit me best?
A useful place to start when wondering “what car should I buy?” is by considering the basic types of vehicle that are available and work from there by striking out those that are totally unsuitable for your driving needs. Car color and trim levels can be factored into your final decision later along with price and the best car brand that fulfils most if not all of your criteria. The types of cars that are widely available include:
- Small economical compacts with a trunk or hatchback
- Station wagons
Once you have decided on the ideal car for your purposes, the price is going to be the biggest car selector factor to impact on your final decision. Technology is now the car buyer’s friend because even the smallest and most economical vehicles (including most used vehicles) are loaded with electronic extras. These used to be a big “deal-making” factor especially when buying new models, but virtually all cars now benefit from power steering, electric windows, and a wide range of in-car entertainment and media systems.
The true cost of in-car extras
The cost of upgrading to the latest media systems is also more affordable these days and, therefore, doesn’t amount to much when deciding what car to buy.
Avoiding the money traps
Car running costs and on-going expenses are also a key factor when asking “what kind of car do I want?” A sports or luxury car is likely to cost a great deal more to repair and maintain than a family sedan, SUV, or compact type car. Buying a car that is expensive to run and maintain on a limited budget is also likely to put a huge drain on your household expenses. The same can be said for car insurance as the bigger and more expensive the car is, the more it is going to cost to insure it too.
So What Type of New Car Should you buy?
If you are looking for a new car you should consider whether you travel thousands of miles a year and would benefit from something more “upmarket” or you simply need a reliable “all round” vehicle. Our car selector guide helps you choose a car that is ideal for your purposes. When it comes to choosing color, despite most drivers believing that car color is something that only involves personal taste, nothing could be further from the truth. Some hues are more popular than others especially where brand new vehicles are concerned, although, some of the more “trendy” finishes quickly fall out of favor when a new version of an existing model is released onto the market. The other downside of many of the more adventurous paint jobs is that it can be difficult to find a buyer that shares your own unique taste in color when it is time to trade in. This, of course, is certain to affect the trade-in value of such a car, and that will ultimately have an impact on your budget and choices the next time around.
Choosing the best color
If you are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world that enjoys plenty of warm sunshine for most of the year you may also want to think more carefully about your car color choice. There is no doubt that automobile painting and refinishing technology have evolved by leaps and bounds over the last few decades but the sun can still be a demon to paintwork. Lighter colors especially white and silver are often the best choice for warmer climates even if you will be parking your car in the garage when it isn’t being used.
New or used
Deciding whether to buy a new or used car is always going to be a crucial factor in making your final choice. The gains of buying used are that you will be able to afford a better model than you would acquire if you spent the same amount of money on a new model. On the downside, however, older cars need more maintenance, are more likely to need repairs, and there may not be any manufacturer’s warranty either.
What Used car should I Buy?
If you are looking for a used car you should carefully consider your available options and balance the benefits of being able to buy a better model of the car against the cons of increased running costs. There are also several factors to take into account before diving in and letting your heart rule your head in the car buying decision.
Are cheap cars really a good idea?
If anything is cheap then there is usually a good reason why. It is not by accident that major automobile manufacturers invest billions of dollars in designing, creating, testing, and manufacturing modern cars. The reality is that it costs a colossal amount to bring a model to the marketplace. That said there are many budget cars available from companies that have specifically targeted price as their unique selling point. These cars often have long warranties and many brands have already stood the test of time. If you are looking for a budget price, and a no-nonsense vehicle that gets the job done, they are more than sufficient for the task.
Benefits of cheap cars
- Long warranties
- No frills established technology means that there is less to go wrong and cheaper to repair
Cons of buying a cheap car
- Basic styling
- Not recognized as a strong brand
- Steep depreciation and poor resale values
Things to look out for
There are several important things that are only related to used cars that any prospective buyer needs to take into account and check-up on before proceeding and they are:
- Mileage the car has covered (supported by relevant documentation such as maintenance records)
- Visual condition of the interior and exterior as these all affect both the current and resale values
- History checks for any outstanding finance or undeclared accident repairs
- Maintenance history records that are certified by a dealer or reputable auto repair shop
- Tires and mufflers for signs of wear or corrosion. (CATs are especially expensive to replace)
- If buying from a dealer check that there is a warranty and read the fine print
- In the case of a private sale try to establish the real reason for the sale (ask the right questions such as why haven’t they traded in?)
- Never rush into anything no matter how hard the sell is (there will always be another bargain)
- Check out how much insurance is likely to cost and call another dealer to get an idea of maintenance costs and the most common faults they repair on the particular model
Avoiding the old timers
All of the above apply no matter what mileage and year of used car you are considering buying. Apart from classics, the rule of thumb is that the older the car the more chance you have of spending money on repairs or maintenance in the not too distant future. In the worst cases of “buyer’s remorse,” you always have the option to resell but it is worth bearing in mind that the only people likely to make any money from a used car are the dealers.
What sports car should I buy?
Do you love speed? If so, here is how you should go about buying your ideal sports car. While a sports car may not be an ideal first choice for every driver, many are in the enviable situation of being able to own one as a second car. From luxury sports and executive marques to roadsters and sports SUVs, there are plenty of options to choose from if you feel the need for speed.
Sports cars and budget
If you are considering buying a new sports model, the budget is going to play a major role in your final choice and so it is well worth establishing what is on offer in your price-range before you shoot off to the dealer.
Spoilt for sports car choices
The great news for family drivers is that there has never been a bigger choice of SUV and all-wheel drive sports vehicles available across virtually every global auto brand in the marketplace. Sports models are no longer the sole domain of coupes and roadsters and many vehicle models range now offer a sports or sports package option.
First or second car
Making a sports car buying decision should start with deciding whether you intend to use the vehicle as your main method of transport and after that how often you need to carry passengers and how many. If you intend to use it as a second car, then you have a much wider scope that can include 2-seater roadsters and coupes that are restricted on both rear doors and seating.
Whether you intend to carry passengers or not, safety should always be a prime concern and needs to go hand in hand with speed and performance. This is likely to be more of a factor if you are considering buying a used sports model, in which case you should apply all of the criteria that we covered in the used car section earlier in this article.
Choosing sports car technology
As with all things auto-related, technology continues to advance at a heady pace and there are already multiple transmission systems and power units’ available right across most sports model options.
From semi-automatics and all-wheel driving to paddle shifts and launch control systems, the latest vehicle technology always finds its way from the race track into the new car marketplace eventually. Of course, it goes almost without mention that all this technology comes at a cost both in terms of your initial purchase and vehicle running expenses.
When it comes to the latest technological advancement and regard for our environment electric cars are already at the leading edge. While there are only a handful of production models available, many environmentally conscious drivers are making the switch to this latest mode of transport. Being so new, it is likely to make the best sense to consider buying the latest model available if you are set on driving an electric car.
Keeping your electric powered vehicle charged
Living or working in an area that has plenty of charging stations should be one of your major considerations when owning one of these types of vehicles as they need to be recharged frequently. The environmental issues aside, electrically powered vehicles also benefit from being extremely quiet and smooth to drive.
Best electric choices
Due to the as yet limited number of suppliers, there is not a huge choice available to prospective buyers. Pricing is also, therefore, not particularly competitive against gas and diesel cars either.
On the plus side, however, many governments and local authorities are offering tax and subsidized trade-in deals on what would otherwise be very expensive cars.
Is it worth buying a used electric car?
As we have already pointed out, electric cars are a new and evolving technology and this means that there are still not huge numbers of them on the roads. Buying a used model could prove expensive in the long run both in terms of any repairs and the amount of charging it is likely to need.
Weighing up your options
As we said at the outset, a large part of buying a car is about the heart versus the brain with both competing to get the upper hand. Having read through our car selector guide we trust that you will now be better equipped to make an informed buying decision. Car ownership still evokes strong emotions even after a strong dose of sensibility has been injected into the mix because after all, most of us take a certain sense of pride in our possessions.
Making the right car buying choice now is going to affect the view you see every morning when you open your drapes or lift up your garage door.
The car you buy is likely to be with you for some time and so how it feels and how nice it is to drive, the level of comfort, and the in-car media are all worth considering before you make your final buying decision.
Whatever model you decide to buy, new or used, there is nothing to lose and plenty to be gained from taking some time over the process and stepping back. Buyers are often encouraged to make instant decisions out of a fear that “it’s the last one at the price” or there is someone else really interested. In reality, however, there is always another great deal around the corner and it is better to “miss the boat” than rush in and make a poor buying decision that you are likely to regret later.