When it comes to buying a car, what is the most important factor? The cost is certainly a front runner, but should it be the top priority? Safety, size, longevity, and more should be heavily weighed into the decision making.
Keeping the passengers safe
Auto safety these days isn’t just about protecting the goods inside the car – including family, friends, and other passengers; but protecting what’s outside the vehicle as well. Seat belts, airbags, car alarms, child locks, etc., now come standard in most vehicles, but more and more makers are improving their technology to support voice commands and other navigation methods so the driver can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Additionally, cameras are opening their lenses in spots that have previously been considered “blind.” Internal alerts, chimes, and automatic braking is also growing in popularity to keep the inside and outside population safe.
Size does matter
If you have a growing family, travel with friends, or commute with peers, having enough seats of course is a given, but you also need enough space to accommodate comfort and safety. If you are the driver of your commuter group one week of the month, it might not make sense to buy the Mustang GT convertible you’ve got your eye on. As fun as it would be for everyone in the short term, it does not answer your needs for the long term, and will shortly provide more of an inconvenience than is worth the fun.
This is among the top competition in the decision making when buying a car. Many in fact are willing to pay more for a vehicle they feel will last them longer. Research shows that most owners will keep a vehicle upwards of 100 months – you can read more about that here. Nobody wants to lose precious months of those 100 in the shop, watching thousands of dollars go with it. It’s important to do your research, but even still “lemons” are out there. Regardless of how reliable a vehicle is, they will ALL need continued maintenance. “Reliable” does not mean “unbreakable.” Take care of your car. Be sure the vehicle is inspected by a reputable tech, and continued maintenance is performed to ensure longevity of your vehicle.
Show me the money
At the end of the day, the amount you spend on your vehicle might play the biggest role in your decision. Be smart about it. Overspending might mean you put yourself in a complicated place, making bloated payments where your money could be better spent during the term of your loan. Under spending might mean you sacrifice the safety or longevity of the vehicle, and will end up costing yourself more money in the long run.
While the cost is certainly important, I recommend that you don’t go looking for a car simply because it has a $15,000 price tag, matching your budget. Decide which make or model meets your style, safety, longevity, and other needs, then find that vehicle within your budget. Maybe it’s the 2008 model instead of the 2011 – as long as your new vehicle meets your needs and fits your budget, you won’t regret it.