A car is more than just a mode of transportation. Failure to account for size, fuel efficiency, safety rating, and dashboard features can lead to incompatibility between car and car owner, which can manifest itself in the form of poor handling, costly upkeep, difficulty when parking, inadequate passenger space, etcetera. Here are four tips on how to find a car that fits your profile: 

Set a Budget

Unless you’re planning to pay for your car with cash, it’s imperative to think about your financing or leasing options. Ask yourself – how much money can I commit every month for a car? As a general rule of thumb, your monthly payment for a new car should be 15% or less of your monthly income. This rule goes for both brand new and secondhand cars. You will also want to allocate a percentage of your monthly income towards fuel, maintenance, and insurance premiums. 

Determine Important Features

Some buyers need a car that will carry up to 10 passengers while others need an all-wheel drive to traverse difficult road conditions. Some buyers need the extra cargo space for business purposes while others are looking for a vehicle with a high towing capacity. Access the nature and purpose of your daily commute to determine which features you should be prioritizing. Other things to consider are your available parking or garage space, the need for children’s car seats, safety alert and assist features. Assist features can include features such as blind-spot monitoring and lane change warning. You’ll also want to decide whether you want a manual versus automatic. 

Use a Car Personality Quiz

There are many online tests that can tell you which car you should consider buying based on your answers to a list of multiple-choice questions. Questions will vary by test but will usually include type of cargo you carry, what road conditions you mostly drive on, what budget restrictions you have, what entertainment preferences you have, et cetera. These quizzes are free and can give you a good starting point on which specific car make and model to research. 

Take the Car for a Test Drive

Nothing beats an actual test drive when deciding whether or not a prospect car is the right one for you. Researching the vehicle specifications and combing through dozens of customer reviews will only give you half the picture. You’ll want to sit behind the steering wheel and feel the car before you can make a final decision. When test driving a car, try to drive it in both stop-and-go traffic and on the freeway. If you do a lot of hiking, you should also try driving it to a nearby steep hill to see how it performs. 

Narrowing it down to the right car is only half the equation; the other half of it is to start the actual car-buying process. This will include negotiating with dealerships, applying for a car loan, securing an insurance policy, and signing the paperwork. When it comes to buying a car, avoid shortcuts. As the old adage goes – measure twice, cut once.

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