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It's 'Me' ...But is it Right for Me?

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It's easy to fall in love during the car buying process, even over something as simple as a color. But many people find out, much to their dismay, that the honeymoon is over when their purchase doesn't really meet their needs after all. It's okay to love your car, but true bliss is found only when you've chosen the vehicle that best meets your needs.

Consider these when you're shopping for a new car

Your Lifestyle

Do you take a lot of long trips with your car, or is it mostly short distances to work and back or around town? If you're constantly hauling things and helping others move, for example, cargo space is probably a priority. The same is true if you're a sports-enthusiast and haul bikes, canoes, camping equipment and the like. If your travel is off road, a sure-footed four-wheel drive will better get you through the rough spots.

Where You Live

People who live in the desert rarely see need for a four-wheel drive vehicle, unless of course they travel through snowy areas or primitive roads fairly regularly. Similarly, a powerful rear wheel drive sports car won't do you much good when the snow comes to your town next winter. And if you live in an outstate area, will you have dealer support available for a model that's sold only in the big city?

Your Family

More specifically, your passengers. Will you be carrying children? Older parents? Business associates? Pets? Then a cramped sports or economy car is probably a bad idea. A snazzy two-seater may be just the thing for weekend getaways or the daily commute, but not the overall best choice. Performance enthusiasts take heart -- there are plenty of sedans and wagons out there that provide driving excitement and performance along with the practical aspects you need in a car.

Your Likes and Dislikes

Do you have a favorite models, brands, or some "must have" options? Now's the time to think about what they are and look at those cars that have what you want. Some people require cruise control for frequent long trips. Others favor only domestic sedans. Remember, you may own this car for six or seven years before trading it in. Any minor dislikes you have can become major annoyances over time.

Your Budget

In the end, money is a factor. Most of us have to work within a limited car budget and can easily get in over our heads with car expenses. Just because you can afford the monthly payments doesn't make a car affordable for you. There are insurance rates. Gas mileage. License fees. Maintenance expenses. All of these should be considered when you're looking for a new car.

Narrow your search

Once you've determined the type of car you want, you should be down to maybe four or five models that fit the bill. Of this small group, do a little comparison shopping. Check insurance ratings. Read consumer reports. Look at resale values. And of course, test-drive each one and note your likes and dislikes. During this part of your search, an overall "winner" should emerge, and you can start to think about negotiating a deal.

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