Buying a car is always a milestone. Whether it’s your first, second, or third car, choosing the right vehicle requires careful thought and consideration as it will inform your safety, convenience, and expenses for the next few years, if not decades.
It’s more important to think carefully when making big purchasing decisions, especially in a recession. We live in trying economic times, and consumers can’t afford to be haphazard with their spending and must be economical for as long as they can.
Here is a step-by-step guide to choosing the right vehicle that won’t break the bank.
1. Determine the car’s purpose.
What are you primarily using it for? Is it your first car? How many people will be driving and/or using it? These are important questions that need to be answered before making any decisions.
If the car is strictly for family use, then it’s best to stick to a functional vehicle that can seat multiple people, like trusty SUVs and minivans. Some large vehicles come with a Wi-Fi feature, which is perfect when the kids need to catch up on some reading and homework on the way to school or for entertaining the whole family on long trips.
If you will use it for adventure and things like off-roading, mountain roads, and long road trips, then it’s best to go for jeeps or vehicles that are fully equipped for those activities.
If the car will be for daily use, then reliable, practical, and low-maintenance sedans are your best bet.
2. Know your budget and stick to it.
Think long-term when it comes to deciding on a budget. Unless you’re paying in cash or in full, you’ll need to think about how you will finance your purchase in the foreseeable future. How much can you afford to allocate every month for car payments? Assess your financial situation and be honest about what you can and can’t afford.
In a recession, it’s not the smartest idea to stretch a loan to acquire a more expensive car. Live within or even below your current means.
3. Write down a list of negotiables and non-negotiables.
What are your priorities when it comes to choosing a vehicle? Is it aesthetics, safety, function, or a combination of all three? Are those priorities essential? Choose the essentials over the non-essentials—it will streamline your options and keep you focused. Practicality is king when it comes to choosing a car. A sunroof may be nice, but if it requires you to go above your budget, think twice if it’s worth it.
The first non-negotiable should be that the car must be mechanically complete. Find a model that meets your criteria and browse through the variant list. And remember: Even a basic model can get the job done.
4. Factor in after-care, maintenance, and safety.
Does the manufacturer have easily accessible facilities you can go to when your car needs servicing or after-care? Are the Toyota parts readily available? Is there somewhere you can go for a quick Subaru gasket repair? Like any machine, cars need maintenance and care to work for a long time. Consider the solutions before the problems even arise.
As for safety, do your research on the model’s car crash statistics and history. Double-check if the manufacturer is known for its products’ safety and reliability.
5. Take a test drive.
It’s important to cover all your bases and do your due diligence when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. Your long-term safety and life depend on it. When you find a model that seems like the perfect fit, schedule a test drive with the manufacturer. Don’t just walk in as many companies are taking health precautions right now due to the pandemic.
Consult with the salespeople; ask anything and everything you want and need to know. Test-drive about three different vehicles and models to see which one is the best fit for you.
6. Look for the best deal.
When you’ve finally narrowed down your choices to two or three, choose which one will give you the best possible deal or pricing. You could probably save a few thousand dollars by going for a more affordable option or by sorting through car promo deals. Compare the models’ pros and cons, and their prices, against each other. Again, it’s wise to save every dollar you can spare in a recession.
Making the Decision
If the car ticks all of your boxes and you’re confident in your choice, then it’s time to buy. If you know you’ve done all that you can to come to the right decision, don’t be afraid to go for it. Then do everything in your power to maintain your vehicle so it can serve you for a long time.