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Comparing Vehicles. In all probability, when you have completed your preparation and "homework" phases, you will have narrowed your choices from the thousands of models that are available down to only a handful or less. Each of these potential vehicles may suit your needs, but it is to your best advantage to choose the one that will be the best for your personal situation.

Comparing Models. The automotive press is another good source of generally unbiased information. See some recommended magazine choices which frequently feature road tests and model to model comparisons. You can even get free sample trial subscriptions to some of the most popular auto magazines.

Driving your choices. The real test.
Looking at pictures of cars, comparing service records and histories, getting input from current owners all carry weight in your comparison process. Still, it is you that are going to buy the car and you are going to have to drive it on a daily basis. That is why it is so vitally important to spend time behind the wheels of the cars you are considering. No matter what anyone or anything tells you about how good or bad a car is--only you can make the decision when you actually drive it. Many times a vehicle will seem to have everything going for it, i.e., an excellent reputation, good serviceability, etc., but does not perform (and drive) comfortably for you. The only way you can make this determination is to drive your primary choices. The best place to test drive cars is,of course, at new car dealerships. Be prepared, however, for an onslaught of sales tactics. you must make it perfectly clear that you are comparing vehicles (and, hint, hint, comparing dealerships). If a salesperson does not want to give you enough breathing room to properly evaluate your potential choices, move on down the road to the next dealer who sells the same make. Make it clear that it is impossible to compare models unless you are given the freedom to do so at your own speed.

Put each car through the paces. Drive it in as many different road situations as possible--especially if that is the type of driving you do on a daily basis. If at all possible, drive on the car on your own, without the salesperson. (The ability to do this will vary from area to area--in some areas it is "normal operating procedure" to allow customers to drive on their own. In other areas, it is virtually unheard of).

Plan "B": If you are nervous about approaching car salespeople with the intention of driving--and not buying--vehicles, you may want to consider renting your primary choices for one day periods. Many areas have "insurance replacement" car rental companies (that's where your insurance company sends you for alternative transportation when your car is wrecked) that will rent at reasonable prices--often $25-$30 a day. You can rent vehicles from these companies on your own, even if you aren't referred by your insurance agency. Using this source can keep your "evaluation costs" down. Testing 3 different vehicles may cost you less than $100 but will save you a great deal of aggravation and time running from dealer to dealer (and listening to sales pitches!) A good source for rentals is Enterprise, since they have hundreds of convenient locations, not just at airports. Plus, they will do what they can to pick up at your home or office.

Comparing Dealers. Making this comparison is just as important as comparing vehicles. All automotive dealerships that sell the same type of vehicles are not created equal! The right car from the wrong dealer will cost you time and money. See the Dealers page for more information.

Comparing Financing. A mistake regarding the financing fo the car can be as expensive (or even more so) than a mistake buying it. For your choices, see the Financing pages. If you are ready to compare financing sources, visit Lending Tree, where you can submit one simple application and within 2 business days receive up to 4 bona-fide loan offers.

Comparing Ways of Buying the Car. Up until a few years ago, there were not many options on how you purchased the vehicle. You went to a local dealer (or dealers), made price comparisons and then purchased the car. With the onset of the Internet, though, there are now additional ways of purchasing. You can, for example, get a no-haggle price from an online source such as, or CarsDirect.

Comparing Insurance Costs
. After the financing, your insurance will probably be the second largest investment you will make in your car. With one simple application, will get you insurance quotes from top-notch insurance companies. You can compare rates from some of the U.S. and Canada's largest insurance companies, free and without sales pressure. Comparing can't get much easier! For additional money saving tips concerning automobile insurance, see the Insurance pages.

Comparing Used Cars. If you are considering the purchase of a used car, each potential vehicle must stand up to an evaluation and checklist, since not two used cars will ever be alike. For a complete discussion on buying a used car, see the Car Clicks Used Car Section.

Next section: Prices


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