Buying a car is something that you only do every few years. However, when it comes time to purchase a vehicle, the investment is substantial enough that you want to make a smart choice. If you’re currently in the market for your next vehicle – or will be in the next few months – then you’ll want to heed the following tips.
1. Safety is a Big Priority
“The last decade and a half has seen some significant safety improvements with new technologies and systems designed to help prevent collisions,” says John R. Quain of VehicleHistory.com. “Many of these important safety features will be mandatory on new cars in the future—but they can already be found in used cars on the market.”
When you purchase a vehicle, there are two primary points of value you should consider: (1) The features that are valuable to you at this very point in your life, and (2) The features that will be valuable in three, five, or ten years when you decide to sell the vehicle.
We’re only at the cusp of vehicle safety right now. In a few years, many of today’s optional safety features – such as rearview cameras, adaptive cruise control, and side impact airbags – will be required. If your vehicle is going to retain value, it should have these features now.
2. Never Buy New
Everyone loves that new car smell. And there’s nothing like knowing you’re the first one to own a vehicle. However, common sense says that you should never buy a new vehicle. The moment you drive a vehicle off the lot, it loses roughly 11 percent of its total value. On a $30,000 vehicle, this means you’re losing $3,300 the second you drive home. After five years of ownership, the car is worth only 37 percent of what you paid for it.
Are you willing to eat this cost? By purchasing a used car – even one that’s only two or three years old – you can save thousands of dollars. There’s really no reason to buy a brand new car.
3. Purchase Proven Brands
The marketplace is flooded with lots of different car brands. While there’s nothing wrong with purchasing from an up-and-coming brand, it’s much more sensible to buy a known brand name. You can’t go wrong with brands like Toyota and Honda. These names are synonymous with quality and reliability. Not only does this (hopefully) mean you’ll have fewer problems with maintenance, but it’ll help when you when you decide to sell in the future.
4. Don’t Get Caught Up in Superfluous Details
What do you think is going to add more long-term value to a vehicle: an upgraded engine or heated seats? While the latter feature may be more noticeable on the front end, a superior engine is obviously going to give a car more value in the long run. Don’t get caught up in superfluous details when purchasing a car.
5. Put Your Needs First
Finally, here’s one tip that you won’t hear anywhere else: put your needs first. While you may be purchasing with the intention of selling in five years and recouping a sizeable portion of your investment, you have to focus on your immediate needs. This is the only way to buy a car that has any value, and thereby meets someone else’s needs in the future.
Be a Smart Shopper
It takes very little effort to shop for a vehicle. You can always find some dealership or corner lot that will sell you a vehicle for little or no money down. However, it does take some time and effort to be a smart shopper.
Just remember: What you get on the back end of the transaction – safety, reliability, satisfaction, higher future resale value, etc. – makes all of the upfront work worth it.
Featured photo credit: John Lloyd via flic.kr