Blankly staring with reddened eyes, the exhausted car shopper examines the thousands of vehicles continually scrolling on the computer screen. Over twenty makes and two hundred models from which to choose; factor in fuel efficiency, mileage, interior dynamics, vehicle history, title status and a myriad of other features, and there’s only one appropriate adjective for such an escapade: hellish. Newspapers, automotive traders and dealerships all vie for your attention and money – and with the thousands of available models, which to choose? Thankfully, there are five questions which draw the line between the neurotic car shopper and you – a confidant, contented customer who knows exactly what to do.
- What Do I Need?
Before such heavenly visions as lavish carpets and leather seats raise their obtrusive hypothetical heads, ask yourself: what do I need in this car? A family of six, living on a $35,000 annual income, cannot afford a Chevrolet Charger, regardless of any male-oriented soliloquies regarding dreams, purpose, and living life to its fullest. Consider current and prospective family size, estimated amount of driving, reliability ratings, vehicle age and price. Filter each vehicle through a list of essential qualifications and rule out any vehicles that cannot conform to your specifications.
- What Do I Want?
Now is the appropriate time to examine cup-holder alternatives. In lieu of the grinding experience just suffered by crossing-out the Ford Mustang GT from the catalog, allow yourself some leniency and muse over which extras would enhance your future vehicle. Research add-ons such as plush carpets, power control, remote entry, sun/moon roof, music options, etc. Not everyone is designed for a bare-to-the-bone Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – some were made to roll in a fashionable BMW 335i, but were regrettably borne into a Ford Econoline 150 family. Don’t lose hope – be creative; necessity is the mother of invention.
- What’s Left?
Rest in peace, Chevrolet Avalanche and Audi Q7 – you’ve been replaced by the Ford Geo and Dodge Neon. After reviewing the infinitesimal list remaining from the gargantuan roster previously existing, pick the five top cars. These vehicles should all be within your budget, meet transportation and lifestyle needs, and have a spark of style to keep you interested (if this is not so, repeat steps one and two again, albeit with greater concentration). Edmunds.com, kkb.com (Kelly Blue Book), autotrader.com and usedcars.com are phenomenal rating and review websites. If you have inquiries about reliability, build quality, fuel economy, performance and other attributes, check out these sites to get the data from both professional automotive enthusiasts and past/present customers.
- Research, Research
Using the sites listed in # 4, craigslist.com, newspaper classifieds and word-of-mouth information, begin investigating the top five vehicles. Continue to explore their characteristics as you work to discover available vehicles near the home. Don’t expect to find your picks within two or three days, but if the lingering stretches past a month, reconsider your selection criteria. Once you’ve discovered a good deal, take immediate advantage of the opportunity; call the seller, set up an appointment, don a good-looking outfit, and take off.
- Prove It to Me
This is the final test: is the vehicle for you? When inspecting a vehicle, do not overlook your tool kit: a critical mind and an educated automotive mechanic. Never purchase a vehicle sight-unseen, unexamined or not driven. Request a test drive. Check out the handling, listen for strange noises, and familiarize yourself with the interior – could you imagine driving in this vehicle for the next 50,000 miles? If the vehicle is used, scan and study the history of the vehicle, which the current owner should present to you upon request. Finally, allow the automotive mechanic to carefully scrutinize the vehicle’s mechanics – repairs for a shoddy vehicle will probably cost much more than the sticker tag. Does this vehicle run well, have a clean history, and respond well to demands? If yes – Eureka!
Finding a superb vehicle doesn’t have to land a potential customer in the psychiatric ward for rest and rehabilitation. Red-eyed and sleep-deprived computer scanner, be gone! With a charily planned strategy and a sprinkling of creativity, you can purchase a splendid vehicle and even get to bed on time.