The car you drive is among the most important purchases you make in your life. Aside from the up-front cost of buying the thing, you’ll also have to think about costs like insurance, fuel, and maintenance – all of which can add thousands, or even tens of thousands, to the ultimate amount you spend.
Think about your lifestyle
Your lifestyle and personal preference should help to inform your decision. If you’re going to be driving long distances for work, then it’s worth investing in something that’s comfortable and fuel-efficient. Check out the new Mazda CX-5 that could fit your style.
If you’re going to just be commuting in an urban environment, then something more compact might be advantageous. Think about the space you need for children and pets, and whether accessories like roof-racks and trailers can be easily attached.
Have a list of qualities in mind
You shouldn’t make a blind visit to the dealership. If you do, then you risk neglecting some crucial quality that you’ll ultimately miss. Make a list of all of the features and functions that you want your car to provide.
Look into the difference between automatic and manual transmissions, and figure out how many seats you need. It’s also important to be aware of any upgrades to cars that have come about since you last bought one.
Set your budget
Whilst there’s no real ceiling for the price of your car: if you don’t have a limit in mind, then you run the risk of spending more than you really should have. If you’re paying monthly, then your contributions should not exceed a given portion of your take-home pay.
For most motorists, the magic figure is 15%, but this may vary depending on your personal circumstances. You might find that by spending more on the car, you actually save thanks to improved resale value and fuel efficiency.
Note that you’ll be spending more depending on where you’re shopping too – so you’ll spend less at a Kia dealership in Northern Ireland than you would at one in central London, even if the model is the same.
Leasing or Buying?
Leasing is an increasingly popular option, especially for those who prefer to drive something that’s nearly-new all the time, and who don’t have the time or inclination to deal with selling.
If you decide to lease, then you never actually own the car, and so you’ll spend less money in theory. However, after you’ve bought a car, you’re free to drive it for as long as it’s roadworthy – and you’re also free to modify it as you see fit.
Don’t Forget to Test Drive
You shouldn’t put money down for a car that you haven’t driven, and you certainly shouldn’t pay anything for a car you haven’t seen in person. During the test drive, to simulate the conditions in which you’ll eventually be driving the car, and look for any tell-tale signs that might reveal an underlying problem. And also that you enjoy driving it and feel comfortable and safe.