If you’re new to automobile buying or haven’t bought one in years, you may not know where to start. How can you pick an automobile that will last? Research and planning are needed. You may buy, lease, or acquire a used car when you know what automobile you want.

Assess your needs

“Right automobile” relies on your needs and preferences. Some people use their automobiles to make a statement (“I’m affluent and hip” or “I’m earth-loving and vintage”). Some enjoy weekend races (“Give me more horsepower and a loud engine”). Practicality takes a backseat to how the automobile makes you feel. Functionality should outweigh flair for everyday drivers. Practical considerations:

  • What’s the passenger count?
  • Drive what? Is it highway, streets, or off-road?
  • Long commute? Is fuel economy vital to you?
  • Need AWD?
  • What’s essential? Reverse camera, leather seats, Apple CarPlay, etc.
  • How do you feel about safety? Want blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and emergency braking?
  • Need cargo space?
  • Car seats?
  • Do you tow?
  • What’s your garage or parking capacity?

Set a budget

You’ll need financing unless you pay cash for your automobile. How much auto payment can you afford each month? Your monthly new-car payment shouldn’t exceed 15% of your take-home salary. The same law applies to used cars. Your monthly leasing payment should be less than 10% of your take-home salary. Add 7% to your monthly salary for gasoline and insurance. You are knowing your budget before automobile shopping will assist.Not sure what vehicles your payment covers? Edmunds’ affordability calculator lists cars in your price range. Prices vary dependent on trim level, extras, taxes, and finance costs.

Buy or lease

Leasing and purchasing have perks and downsides that may influence your decision.

A lease requires little or no down payment and cheaper monthly payments. When the lease ends, you’ll need to shop again. Cars are more costly upfront and have more outstanding monthly payments. When the loan is paid off, you’ll own an automobile you can drive forever.

When selecting between leasing and buying, consider these factors:


More expensive cars are cheaper.

Every few years, you can buy a new, high-tech automobile.

Factory warranty covers most repairs.

End-of-lease trade-ins are easy.


You can sell the automobile whenever.

Cars may be customized.

No mileage penalties apply.

Long-term automotive costs are lower if you pay off and keep the car.

Consider Class Cars

Do you want a particular car? Shoppers do. In today’s ever-changing market, new automobiles are continually arriving, and one you’ve never considered may be suitable for you. Edmunds lets you compare cars to discover the best one.

If you have an automobile in mind, compare it to others in the same class to ensure you haven’t missed a better one. You may accomplish this by using our Car Finder tool and specifying your desired parameters. Once you choose a good possibility, you may investigate cost, specs, and features. You may compare automobiles’ features and specs.

If you know what vehicle you desire, such as an SUV, visit Edmunds’ “car type” section. It includes the most researched automobiles in each class and Edmunds’ top selections.

 Calculate ownership costs

Some inexpensive automobiles are expensive to own. One car may depreciate quicker or be more costly to insure and maintain than another of a similar price.Estimate the car’s long-term ownership expenses before buying. Depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and gasoline. Actual Cost to Own® (TCO®) is an easy-to-read tool from Edmunds. It can help you make an early decision that saves you thousands throughout the car’s lifetime.

Find used cars

Old-school vehicle shopping involved visiting showrooms to check inventory and possibilities. Using Edmunds’ dealer inventory tools, you may save time and money. After choosing an automobile, you can quickly check its availability.If you can’t locate what you seek nearby, look further. You may refine your search by color, options, or Edmunds Special Offers.

Test Drive

Call, text, or email the dealership’s online department to book a test drive. Internet salespeople are dealership buddies. They serve knowledgeable consumers, are straightforward about pricing, and know Edmunds Special Offers.By arranging a test-drive appointment, you assure the automobile will be waiting for you. We recommend test-driving three cars to avoid limiting your selections. Back-to-back consultations will let you compare automobiles and leave the dealership gracefully. After a test drive, the salesman may want to speak numbers.

Test Drive Checklist

The ultimate test of a car’s features is when you’re behind the wheel. It would help if you test-drove the automobile as you would normally.Try commuting in stop-and-go and motorway traffic. In the highlands, look for challenging hills to climb. Drive over bumps, take tight turns, and test the brakes.If you’re carrying passengers, get in and out of the car multiple times and sit in the rear. Cargo space? Bring your child’s car seat to test fit and installation. Photograph the autos for further reference.

Avoid distractions when analyzing the automobile. Scrutinize everything. A skilled salesperson would let you test the car and focus on driving.Disable the stereo to hear the engine. Return to the dealership to check the sound system. If the conversation turns to buying or leasing, explain you’re still test-driving.

Choose a Car

The option should be simple after test-driving numerous automobiles. If not, think it through. You may know tomorrow. If not, drive more cars. You are taking your time when buying might prevent buyer’s regret.

It’s crucial to make the proper decision, yet there’s no perfect answer. Modern automobiles are safer. Better MPG. They have cheaper facilities. The ultimate vehicle choice is a question of personal taste. Now that you’ve done enough homework, we hope you’re ready to buy or lease a car. Here are articles that explain the car-buying or car-leasing procedure step-by-step.

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