There are 222 million drivers in the U.S. And there’s always room for one more—you. If you are ready to join the race, take a few extra steps to make sure you are going to find the best car to get exactly what you want.
Let’s look at several important considerations before you rev your engine.
Start with what kind of make and model of car you’d want. Make is the manufacturer (Ford, Toyota, Chevy) and model refers to the specific name (Escort, Prius, Tahoe). Typically, the model is given a name based on the size of the vehicle–compact, sedan, SUV, minivan or truck. You’ll also see the year inserted in front of the make and model.
For example, a 2020 Ford Escort is a front-wheel drive, four-door sedan. And obviously made by the Ford Motor Company. Trying to find the best car for you can be fun if you start your search with paint colors or a type of sports car that expresses your personality.
Used or new
Used cars are actually a good choice for first-time car buyers. If you just got a new job or you need a vehicle but still have college loans, they are a good bet. Even though used car dealers have had a bad reputation for selling lemons, decent used cars are available. And don’t worry, you won’t have to date an automotive parts guy. Used car quality has increased over the years. Buying a used car is also a great option if you’re thinking of a second car but you also have a mortgage.
Take a look at commercial web-based services that will give you the car’s history, such as Carfax.com. You can find out if the car sustained damage from an accident or was underwater. A previously-owned vehicle may be an ideal choice, even if the car is a little dinged up. An auto body shop is a good place to take your used car after you’ve bought it for touch-ups or whole car painting to get it to look that way you want.
Make or model preference
Do you want a heavy-duty truck that can haul utility trailers? Do you prefer an SUV to travel to out of the way places for outdoor activities? Or are you a practical person who just wants a set of new tires on a nice, 4-cylinder car to get you from point A to point B? Think about your lifestyle and the sorts of things you need your vehicle for. Commuting, carting the kids back and forth to school, camping, or chasing a new hobby. Typically, the smaller the car, the better it is on gas. But the larger the car, the safer it is considered. And if you’ve owned a car, are you loyal the manufacturer or model? Over half of the consumers who bought an SUV would buy one again.
To find the best car for you, you’ll need to decide how much you have to spend on a car. If you have a trade-in it can help reduce the price of the newer vehicle you’re about to purchase. When you arrive at the dealer, do your homework. You want to make sure the dealer is as close to the value of your trade-in as they can be. The dealer’s offer should be based on the values listed in the Kelly Blue Book. Think of this as the source for car values that are universally accepted. You should also consider the cost of building a garage and installing a residential garage door to protect your car.
Lease or own
When you find the best car, you always have the option of leasing the vehicle. While you don’t technically own the car, it’s still under warranty. And it’s easier to get out of a lease agreement than it is to get out of a 5-year loan. If you want to make the car your own, you can pay cash upfront or take out a loan. According to Experian, a credit reporting company, the average car loan is a little over $31,000. And most people choose a loan term of 60 to 72 months (five to six years). The average payment is close to $550 per month for a new car and about $400 per month for a used car. Most interest rates today, fall between 3% and 4%. One of the easiest ways to lower your car payments is to increase the number of months you have in the loan agreement.
Before you find the best car, know that while you’re looking, the car dealer will be looking at you. Your income and credit score can affect your interest rate if you decide to get a loan. Even if you buy a used car, credit scores are used to calculate interest rates. The bank wants to make sure they aren’t loaning money to someone who may default on the loan. Or someone who has a history of not paying back loans in a timely manner. A steady income indicates the ability to hold a job and to afford a large purchase like a car.
Make an appointment to sit in it
Technology is a lifesaver and a gas-saver as you don’t have to drive all over town to see the car you want. You can take a virtual tour of the car at the dealership. The good thing is that you can view similar cars and compare prices and bargains. Some dealerships actually trade cars. Some you’re not losing your mind, it’s entirely possible that one car appears in one location then disappears and reappears in another location. Not easy to find the best car in this shutdown, but there are ways that dealerships are catering to the limitations. However, it’s essential to test drive the car before you buy it. Even after you find the best car, the feel of it is a critical step towards its purchase. It’s not unusual for your dream car to feel like it was made for someone else.
It’s entirely possible that as soon as you find your baby, you’re going to get into a fender bender or a full-on crash. You may think: I’m going to find the best car to keep me safe. Unfortunately, you can’t always prepare for the deer that runs out in the middle of the road, the weather that makes the street a sheet of ice or the driver who is distracted and not looking out for you.
Now the first thing you need to do is move your vehicle off the road and put on your 4-way flashers. The second thing to do is: shut up. You do not admit guilt, apologize, or blame the other person. Your insurance company will determine responsibility. You are not obligated to say anything no matter what the circumstances.
If the crash is major, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and your car accident lawyer. Especially if the car is not in driving condition. Also, it’s important to document any injuries from the accident. And if the accident happens to be your fault (again, keep it to yourself), you want to make sure there’s an objective report to refer to if your insurance agent or the other party’s insurance agent requests one. If a lawyer gets involved, they will also want to refer to the report as well. The lack of a police report in a serious accident may result in the lack of coverage for repairs to your car. It may also mean any medical expenses you have incurred won’t be covered. The lack of a report also looks as if you are trying to either avoid being implicated or trying to get money from the other party. This could be treated as you trying to defraud the other person’s insurance company.
In fact, some states require a police report if one or more parties were injured. Do not leave the scene of an accident, most especially if anyone was injured. It is possible, in some rare occasions that the police cannot be present at the scene to collect information and file a report. If this is the case, ask the dispatcher what you should do. A police officer may be able to take details of the accident from you over the phone. Be as accurate as you can be. Take photos of the damage to both (or all) vehicles. Photos from your iPhones or Smart Phones help by providing visual evidence—and all photos are time stamped. You even can document your own injuries by taking selfies.
Important to remember: broken bones or any injury that causes bleeding must be attended to immediately. Hospital trauma units are well-equipped to provide car accident injuries treatment. Some injuries, while not immediately obvious, are not something you want to ignore. If you hit your head or felt the impact with your upper body, visit the ER to rule out a concussion or head trauma. Concussion symptoms include dizziness, headache, tinnitus (ringing in one or both ears) nausea, blurry vision, and/or disorientation.
If both cars involved are drivable, you still must exchange vehicle registration and insurance information. Most states require some proof of insurance for bodily injury, property damage, and liability. Other states, like Ohio, only require a card that indicates financial responsibility or minimum vehicle insurance. You may find yourself in the difficult position of suing the other party for compensation for damages and medical bills. Before you seek a lawyer like a personal injury attorney make sure you have the correct information of the responsible party. There’s no way to begin a lawsuit if you don’t know who you’re collecting damages from. And there’s always the chance the other person doesn’t have insurance or don’t have adequate coverage. Or the individual who hit you needs to go to jail. If that’s the case, any person who’s broken the law, may be arrested or the court may allow them the opportunity to be released on bail. If that’s the case you or your lawyer may be dealing with bail bond agents. These agents act as a person in favor of a defendant who can’t post bail.
Accidents are stressful events so take a few deep breaths and before anyone arrives, take a quick inventory to find out what’s damaged. A good look—use your phone or a flashlight if the accident happened at night. Start from the front to the back of your car. Do not move or touch anything on either car, unless it interferes with traffic or your safety. Most of all, do not become a victim of the accident and stay out of the way of oncoming cars. Here are some of the top instances where you might need to seek auto repairs:
- Bumper: dings, cracks or complete detachment
- Grill: cracked, warped, broken or missing tines
- Wind shield glass: cracks, shattering, dislodged
- Door: dents, scrapes, unable to open or close
- Side mirrors: cracked, bent, complete detachment
- Headlights/tail lights: cracks, broken, non-functional
Maybe all you need is to seek auto glass services, or find a local collision service center. If you file a claim, insurance agents will assign a claims adjuster to evaluate the car. These men and women are well-versed in what can be invisible to you. They’ll also give you an idea of what you’ll be paying and what your deductible is. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay the cost to repair your vehicle or if you’ll let the insurance company to cover the cost. Most drivers look at the extent of the damage and if it can be repaired for less than the deductible, they’ll pay it outright.
Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases of your life. Next to owning a home—and getting a mortgage—becoming a car owner is a right of passage for adults. Cars are almost an extension of people’s personalities. On average, you’re probably going to own eight cars over the course of your life. But the first cars are often the most memorable. Even without personalized license plates, cars may indicate a person’s income, age, profession, or gender. The good news is that no matter what your income is, you can find the best car that makes you happy.