The task of choosing from the more than 900 models of vehicles available on the auto market can be overwhelming. If you follow these five steps, you’ll find the process much easier.
1) Decide on the type of vehicle you want, whether it’s a truck, an SUV, a coupe, 2-door, 4-door, car with automatic transmission, car with manual transmission, etc. We have a post all about figuring out what kind of car you need, and you can go through this to help you decide on what type of car meets your requirements.
2) Make a list of the models that suit your needs. There are a lot of websites that will help you with this, but our personal favorite is Edmunds.com. They will give you a list of all the vehicles that meet the requirements you specify.
3) Start narrowing down your choices even further by crossing out any vehicles that don’t meet your budget or that aren’t reliable. We’ve got a car payment budget calculation tool, and we also have some great car budgeting advice for you to read. Also, with new cars, it’s important to ignore special financing and rebate offers when you make your purchase decision, since most similarly priced models will have similar incentives.
4) Test Drive. Now that you have a list of cars that meet both your needs and your budget, and that are reasonably reliable, here’s the fun step: test-driving. Look at the vehicles, sit in them, drive them, and make sure you get a feel for them. Try to get a sense of whether you like the vehicle or not. Too many people fall in love with vehicles they’ve never driven, and the minute they sit in them and actually drive them, they don’t like them anymore.
5) Pick Your Top 3. After you’ve driven all the models on your list, you will know which three you like the best. The last step is to do more research: take the top three for another test drive and compare them to each other, and pick a winner from there. If you get through your list and you’ve test driven everything on it and you still haven’t found anything that you like, it’s probably because you’ve missed a feature that you want, or maybe you’re even looking at the wrong type of car. You’ll need to go back from step 1 and re-evaluate what you want and need.