Picking the perfect car

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A car is a big purchase. Following these steps can help assure the car-buying experience is a smooth ride.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, more than 17.5 million new cars were sold in the United States in 2015.  If you are one of the millions of people interested in buying a new car, these are some of the most important things to consider before making your decision.

Determining Your Budget

Buyers should carefully calculate what they can afford before they begin browsing new cars. Be prepared, however, for costs beyond just the sticker price. If you’re buying new, the basic invoice cost of a car might not include the features or accessories that you want most. Don’t forget to factor in some of the following costs when budgeting for your vehicle purchase.

  • Any payment changes to your existing car insurance policy.
  • Increases or decreases in your fuel budget for the new vehicle.
  • Trade-in value of the vehicle you want to sell.
  • Loan terms like length, interest and monthly payments.
Finding a Car That Meets Your Priorities

Once you’ve decided to replace your car and you’ve set a budget, it’s time to think about what you’d like. This varies significantly among buyers, so only you can know what vehicle features are most important to you. The following are some of the most common things buyers look for when purchasing a vehicle.

  • Fuel efficiency: Consumer Reports lists this as one of the key things to consider when buying a car. Smaller vehicles or cars with alternative fuel sources may be ideal for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint or pay less at the pump. 
  • Passenger capacity: This refers to the number of seats in the vehicle. That convertible might look great now, but it won’t be a solid investment if there’s no room for a car seat in the back if you need one in the near future.
  • Safety ratings: If vehicle safety is a priority, pay attention to crash test results, rollover resistance, recalls for similar models, for blind spots and level of rear-impact protection.
  • Performance: Rapid acceleration, super-responsive and a turbo-charged engine are often attractive to buyers with an eye on vehicle performance.
  • Overall style and appearance: The look, design and even color of the car may be important to you and should be considered.
Used Cars vs. New Cars

Before your purchase, spend some time considering whether a new or used car might be the better investment.

  • New cars can be ordered to your exact specifications, have never been in an accident, will be under a warranty and may require less in terms of maintenance or repairs for the first few years.
  • Used cars may be lower in price than new vehicles, they avoid quick depreciation after purchase and they often include lower associated costs like insurance and registration.
Getting the Best Rate on Auto Financing

An integral part of buying a new car is organizing the financing. Whether you’re buying new or used, be sure to compare several auto loans first. Look to banks as well as dealerships, and take steps to increase your credit score before applying in order to secure the best possible interest rate.


Buying a new vehicle can be a big decision. Visit usbank.com for more information on auto loans and financing options.