Car Buying "Homework"
a car is too expensive an activity to enter with either bad information (and there's lots of it out there) or not
enough information. When a single "misstep" could cost you thousands of dollars, spending a few hours
(and maybe a few dollars) doing your "homework" can be one of the most profitable investments you can
Model Research: When you have narrowed your research down to
a type of vehicle,
in all likelihood you will still have dozens of choices. As an example, let's say your needs and wants dictate
a sport utility vehicle. If it is a new sport utility vehicle that your are interested in, your choices will include over 40 different
models...domestic and import, compact, mid-size and full-size, ranging in price from the mid-teens to over $50,000!
Daunting, isn't it? So how do you choose? By getting your hands on as
much information as possible, that's how! Just because a vehicle is available for sale doesn't mean that it is
a good vehicle
(or good for you)! Lots of cars and trucks have had short life spans on the market simply because they were, pure
and simple, bad vehicles. Multi-billion dollar manufacturers can make mistakes, just like individuals can. Don't
get caught falling in love with a vehicle that no one likes after they have bought it. So where do you start?
Sources of information
The internet has a wealth of information available. Use your favorite search engine, or take advantage of online
resources like Edmunds.com,or CarsDirect to aid you in
Input from current owners. Ask friends, family, neighbors or
even strangers about their experiences with the car they own. Sometimes this is one of the most valuable sources
of information since these people have been living with their vehicles on a day-to-day basis.. NOTE: If it appears
that someone has an axe to grind, for whatever reason, eliminate their input. Because of their bias, their opinions
are usually worthless.
From the Manufacturers.
Obviously, this is the most biased information you will get, but it can help to narrow your search, especially
when you are comparing similar vehicles from the same manufacturer family (for example, a Ford Taurus and a Mercury
Sable). You will also be able to begin to focus your search on available powertrains, configurations and optional
Probably the least desirable source of information for obvious reasons. Not only will you have to enter the showroom
and possibly contend with a sales pitch, you run the risk of getting only part of the story. (You may, however,
want to visit dealerships during hours that they are closed. Walking the new car lot will often give you information
on general specifications, optional equipment and the like).
Consumer Reports You gotta have it. Trying to pick a car without knowing comparative safety, service and reliability records
is automotive suicide. In association with amazon.com, buy it here. It's a small
price to pay to have tons of authoritative information.
of the most up-to-date information can be found in the automotive press. Here you will often get unbiased opinions
of various vehicles, as well as comparisons between similar models.
There are a number of good car buying guidebooks that will give you good background information and help you in your preparation.
Take advantage of the research the authors have done. You'll find a storehouse of information that is available
for a bargain price.
Next Section: Comparisons