Navigate Car Buying 2024: How to Choose Your Ride When you Know Nothing About Cars

Let’s talk car shopping! An experience that some people find extremely exciting and others totally nerve-racking. If you’ve never purchased a car before and your car knowledge is literally nonexistent, you’ll most likely fit in the second category. But as much as you dread the idea of purchasing a car, you probably still need a vehicle to get you from point A to point B. That means you have to get out there, dive into the automotive world and do your best to find the right car for you.  

If it’s any consolation, there are a lot of people in the exact same situation as you. Not everyone is a car connoisseur and you certainly don’t have to be one to find a great ride. But you do have to put in some effort and do a bit of research and planning to get through the process. Otherwise you’ll go in blindly and end up spending more than you should or choose a car that doesn’t really fit your needs. You definitely don’t want to deal with these regrets afterwards, so it’s best to take the safe route and do your homework. 

To help you out, we’ve put together a list with the factors you should consider when starting your car buying journey, so you don’t choose your vehicle based (solely) on color or the phases of the Moon. 

List your needs


It’s quite obvious that choosing the right car depends greatly on your needs and personal preferences. A car is not a one size fits all type of asset, so you must do a bit of analyzing (and some soul searching, might we add) to help you figure out what you really need and what you should focus on when searching for a vehicle. If you’ve got a limitless budget and want to buy a statement car just because you can and it will make you happy, go for it! But most people have to put functionality first and find a car that will support their lifestyle and their day to day duties. Think about what matters the most to you and put everything down on paper to help you set your priorities straight.  

Check your budget 

Now that you know what you need from your future ride, you must see how it translates financially. Again, if you’ve got more money than you can spend, this isn’t an issue, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you would. For those with budget limitations, you must look for vehicles that fall in your price range. Unless you can afford to pay for your car in cash, you’ll have to weigh in your financing options. Assess your monthly budget and decide how much you can afford to pay for your car each month. Ideally, car installments should not go beyond 15% of your total monthly income.   

Lease vs buy 


Is it better to lease or to buy? If you’re struggling with this dilemma you must know there’s not a right or wrong path. Both leasing and buying have their pros and cons. For starters, leasing allows you to drive a great car, it usually doesn’t require a downpayment and monthly installments are considerably lower. However, when the lease contract comes to an end you’ll be left without a ride and you’ll have to start all over again. If you decide to buy a car, it will cost you more initially, but you’ll have more benefits in the long run. It’s up to you to decide which option works best for you.  

Consider long-term costs 

A car requires a bigger investment than the initial purchasing cost. When you decide on a certain vehicle, you must think long-term and take into account further expenses. A cheaper car can seem appealing, but if the insurance and maintenance costs are high, you won’t save any money. That’s why it’s important to get informed about how your car will perform in the future, if it will depreciate fast, how much you’ll have to pay for insurance and maintenance, what the fuel consumption is etc. to get a clear understanding of the ownership costs. 

Explore your options 


Have you decided on a specific model or a certain brand? It’s good to narrow down your options, but don’t let it limit you. Each year automakers launch new versions and models comparable with the ones that caught your interest, and it would be a shame not to explore other options as well. You might find a car that you love even more, at a better price. For example, if you’ve got your heart set on a Kia Sportage, you might want to check various models in the same class at dealership, to make sure you don’t miss a better choice.  

Search for dealerships 

Once you’ve decided what you want exactly, it’s time to go car hunting. The classic method of visiting dealerships is still the best way to go about things. Do a quick search on Google and find dealerships in your area that sell the models you’re interested in. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in your close proximity, expand your search area. Then take the time to visit each dealership, talk to the salesmen, see what offers they have, get all the information you need and compare your options. 

Book a test drive 


There’s nothing like a good old test drive to help you make up your mind. Now that you have your finalists, you must see how they perform on the road and figure out if they match your expectations. A car can look great in the showroom and impress you when the sales representative gives you a rundown of all its features and qualities, but it’s how you feel behind the wheel that will count the most. So, before you reach a conclusion, book a test drive, take the cars out for a spin and evaluate them thoroughly.

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