Car Buying Tips: What to Ask Yourself When Buying a Car


5 Car Buying Questions to Ask Yourself

When you’re in the market to purchase a car, have you ever been overwhelmed by all of your options? Many people go car shopping only thinking of superficial desires like status before thinking about what they can afford, how they’ll pay, and the features they need rather than want. Edmunds.com suggests shopping with your needs, and not your wants, in mind. So, before you buy your next car, consider the following questions to help you narrow down your search and lead you in the right direction:

  1. New or Used?  While many people are wooed by the mere scent of a new car, sometimes a used car is the best value for your money. Did you know that the typical new car can depreciate up to 40 percent the moment it’s driven off the lot? So, consider buying a “late” model, or a low-mileage used car that will not only save you money, but could also provide some “new car” perks, like a warranty.
  2. Cash or Loan?  After you decide whether you’d like to buy a new or used car, the next thing you’ll likely have to decide is how you’re going to pay. While you may have the cash on hand to purchase the car you want, it’s likely that you’ll need car financing. If you are looking for a new auto loan or a used car loan, be sure to investigate all of your options and you can even show up with a pre-approval letter before test driving. That way, the seller will know you are serious about the purchase and may be more likely to negotiate to seal the deal.
  3. Manual or Automatic?  The next decision to mull over is whether you’d like to drive a car with a manual or automatic transmission. Those who don’t know how to drive manual cars may have the choice made for them. However, keep in mind that stick shift vehicles are often at least a few hundred dollars cheaper than their automatic counterparts. If you’re looking to save, it may be worthwhile to learn how to drive a manual car before making the choice.
  4. Gas, Electric, or Hybrid?  When deciding what type of car to buy, there is also the question of fuel economy. While some gas guzzlers may come with a lower sticker price, a fuel-efficient small to mid-size gas car, or even an electric or hybrid car may save you money in the long run. Be sure to do the comparisons before opting one way or the other. Some electric and hybrid cars require that you drive anywhere from 15,000 to 100,000 miles before you break even on the additional cost of purchase.
  5. Seating for Two or 20?  While a 20-seater may be a bit of an exaggeration, when it comes to seating space, not all cars are created equal. You may even want to think about the future if you plan on having your next car for a while. For example, are you recently married and think kids may be a part of your future plan? If so, you may not want to settle on a two-seater when you may just have to trade it in for an SUV or minivan in the near future.

There are many other options and features you may want to consider before buying your next car. However, if you start with these five questions you’ll be on the road to your next new (or new to you) car in no time. Also, if you’ve already purchased a new car, you may find that there’s even more money to save on interest than what you’re paying now. Consider an auto refinance loan to help lower your interest rate even more.


What advice would you give someone purchasing their first vehicle?

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14 Responses to Car Buying Tips: What to Ask Yourself When Buying a Car

  1. John@MoneyPrinciple 12/22/2011 at 4:15 am #

    If it’s their first car, they will likely be young inexperienced drivers who have not long had their licence.

    Check the insurance ratings first because different companies load young drivers quite heavily in the UK. There has been recent UK legislation against discrimination which will affect this because young men in particular were penalised very heavily (insurance costs much more than the value of the car). Automatics are easier to drive but I think a manual is better to have as a first car as you begin to understand the way the car works.

    So buy an older car, try not to borrow money if possible, get the no-claims years under your belt and age as well helps! Until you get to the other end of course….

    • Paul 12/22/2011 at 6:07 am #

      Young men are still penalized in the US with higher insurance rates. Good advice on buying used John!

  2. UltimateSmartMoney 12/22/2011 at 11:46 am #

    Also consider getting auto insurance quote prior to buying a new or used car. It’s always good to know how much you will be paying in insurance and not get surprised later.

    • Paul 12/22/2011 at 8:36 pm #

      Great point! I was looking at a sports car years ago until this is, I called my insurance agent to get a quote on insurance!

  3. krantcents 12/22/2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Give your car a lot of thought because you will probably own it a long time.

    • Paul 12/22/2011 at 8:38 pm #

      I’ve had my truck 10 years and am planning on keeping it as long as I can. Good advice KC and I’m not sure why anyone would not give a car purchase the careful thought that it deserves.

  4. Catherine 12/03/2012 at 6:20 am #

    Our last vehicle was new and we learned our lesson- won’t do it again. Not that we’ve had any issues, and we like the security of the warranty I don’t know it was worth it given the depreciation. Next vehicle will be at least a year old.

    • Paul 12/03/2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Unless I hit the lottery, I don’t think I will ever buy a new car again. The loss of value in the first year is a tough pill to swallow.

  5. alvin 01/21/2013 at 11:18 pm #

    I am sure that if you make sure that you have precise answers for these car buying questions, you would end up buying the best car as per your needs and tastes.

    • Florencia Ellis 08/29/2013 at 2:39 am #

      Not necessarily everyone will be able to precise the answers of those questions but it is always helpful to take someone along who is an expert car driver. Even if you does not have the answers of all those questions, that person will help you to choose the best car (if he is loyal). :)

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