Buying a car

By Matthew Felsted

There are several purchases in your life that rank as the most important you'll ever make. Buying a car is one of them. That's why it's important to shop around. For most people, money is a top concern, and constrains any purchasing decision. That's why it's recommended to buy a used car for your first car. If you have a stable job and some extra money you may have the luxury of buying a brand new car.

What should you look for when buying a used car?

  1. Know the Kelly Blue Book value of the car. You can research this easily online. This will tell you what the car is actually worth. You only need to provide some basic information, i.e. mileage, make, model, year, and whether or not it has any body damage or known problems.
  2. Previous owner and why they are selling their car. Are they selling it because they bought a new car? Are they just trying to get rid of it because it is useless "clunker"?
  3. You may want the VIN number, that is, the Vehicle Identification Number, which provides a means of tracking all major incidents reported on the vehicle that you may want to know about.

All of this information also will determine the your car insurance rate. The cost to cover a vehicle varies based on several key factors, including your age, gender, driving record and history, car to insure, and the overall risk factor car insurance companies use to determine your price. If you want to know before  hand whether or not your car will be expensive to insure, you can easily look up car insurance quotes before you purchase the vehicle. Before you can actually get car insurance you will need the car title to be transferred from the previous owner to yourself. You can handle this with the help of the DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles, in the USA.

What should you look for when buying a brand new car?
  1. It's always fun to walk in to a car lot and test drive different cars. The salesmen can be pushy and pressure you to buy before you're ready and as a consequence, you can end up with the wrong car, being stuck with making payments month after month for years to come. That's why it's not a bad idea to preview your car online, or take a virtual test drive. 
  2. Fuel efficiency and gas mileage is a primary concern of the 21st century as both the economy and the environment have mobilized the world towards fuel efficiency and energy independence. You might consider a hybrid but if that's not your thing then you can offset the cost of gasoline by learning how to hypermile: a form of conservative driving that optimizes mileage and minimizes gas required. 
  3. Calculate your minimum payment and how to finance your new vehicle. Most purchases of new cars require a loan and dealerships can typically set this up for you.
  4. Ask yourself, what kind of car is right for me? To narrow your search just think, what will you be using the car for. Is it just for work, play, everything, hauling and moving equipment, luxury, enjoyment, speed, or is it for show? 
  5. Do your homework. Start your search for cars online.

Popular cars and their MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price)

  1. 2012 Ford Focus - MSRP of $16.5K - $39.2K
  2. 2012 Nissan Altima Sedan - MSRP of $20.5K - $25.5K (Approximate)
  3. 2012 Hyundai Genesis - MSRP of $34.2K - $46.5K
  4. 2012 Acura TL - MSRP of $35K - $45K (Approximate)
  5. 2012 Nissan Sentra - MSRP of $16.4K - $20.9K  (Approximate)
The biggest expenses you'll ever likely have are 1. buying a house, 2. getting a college degree, and 3. buying a car. When buying a car it should be more than just a calculation. It should feel right. It should speak your personality.


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