Tuesday, July 23, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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New vehicles are available in a greater variety than ever. Countless options and features separate the different models. Some features please folks looking for them, and aggravate others who are not. Too many choices can be worse than not enough and deciding is harder than ever.

Most people have experienced the difficulty of a decision, with too many choices.

The problem, of making the right decision, is far more important as costs rise. Technology brings other unknowns. Many things look good on the surface, but have long-term consequences that are difficult to foresee. This may be where the wisdom, "Never buy the first-year model," came from.

Every old clunker was once someone's new vehicle

Vehicle manufacturers have a well-deserved reputation for selling designs that do not meet people’s needs. The Vega, Pinto and Omni are examples, for those old enough to remember. These "revolutionary" designs were problematic and did not give expected service. A high-tech, energy-efficient vehicle was the promise, and high-cost problems were the result.

In fairness, customers likely misunderstood these early attempts at a domestic small car. For generations, people bought American vehicles for their power, comfort and durability and these offered none of those features. The small fuel mileage increase, came at the expense of other important things. These cars did not offer a good cost to benefit balance. The overall costs paid, exceeded the value offered.

How do I choose the right vehicle?

Every design offers benefits and has drawbacks. For instance, an EX model may offer enhanced performance and handling, but it comes at the expense of the ride. Stiffer shock rates and low-profile, speed-rated tires, will not ride well. The design is not bad; it is just not the vehicle for a person primarily interested in comfort. Such things are almost impossible to change, if we make a poor choice.

Study option levels, before choosing a vehicle

Most vehicle models come in many option levels. For instance, a Honda Civic may be available as a LX, DX or EX and even more levels. Each model has different features, designed to appeal to a segment of the market. One may have a handling package, power seats, a more powerful engine or any number of other things. To make a wise choice, the buyer needs to understand what each level means.

Because a model cost more, does not mean it is higher quality. The option level is really the personality of the vehicle. Some features included with a higher price model, may make it less desirable to some. For instance, a more powerful engine may require premium fuel. This is acceptable to a person interested in performance, but detrimental to an economy minded driver. Study all available information on option levels, before making a choice.

Choosing the right vehicle will make for a good match

Things that are not practical often attract us. A large dog is great, but not a good choice for a person with limited living space. For a guard dog, larger, more aggressive breeds make sense, and small dogs do not work well. The key to a better choice is defining our needs and studying the options, before purchasing.

Emotions do not lead to good decisions.

Search Internet images, for "buying a new car," and countless photos of people with huge smiles on their face appear. This is not by accident. Manufacturers spend billions on advertising. Their goal is to tap the emotions of the buyer. People are far less likely to buy overpriced models, when they see the options logically. This article is not about whether a new vehicle is wise or what is a fair price. The goal is to find a good match, after deciding to buy.

emotions will lead to a poor choice in most vehicle purchases

The best way to keep emotions in check is specifically defining your needs. Start with a written list and rank the choices. For example, if economy is the most important, it goes at the top of the list. Continue with other important considerations and be as specific as possible.

Many people confuse fuel mileage with economy. Cost of fuel is an important consideration, but overall costs will have a far greater impact on the pocketbook. On this site, is a fuel mileage calculator. This shows the savings from a fuel mileage increase.

The mile per gallon rating, is a bit misleading, if not understood. Calculations are regressive and not linear. The percentage that savings represents, will get lower, as the mileage rises. This is because we save a percent of an ever smaller number.

cost has a much larger impact on your pocket book than just price

Going from 15 miles per gallon to 20 MPG may save $700.00 yearly, depending on fuel price and miles driven. Under the same conditions, an increase from 20 to 25 MPG will only save $425.00. The savings get less as the miles per gallon increases. Going from 35 MPG to 40 would only save $152.00 a year. This is important to understand, before paying $30,000.00 for a little better fuel mileage. It is also why hybrid vehicles make little economic sense.

Considering the overall cost takes time and experience.

Convenience features, like automatic lift gates, are enjoyable. They also present a high cost when they fail. Very large-diameter tires are stylish, but replacement cost several times more than standard tires. These are real expenses, which we must include in the overall costs of the vehicle, over time.

A conversation with a trusted auto repair person can give much insight. Repair shops see the things that break and are familiar with the costs of repair. Always seek advice from someone who does not stand to gain by your decision.

Large decisions require time.

Buying the right new car takes time. Allow at least a month and much longer if possible. When a breakdown makes a new car seem necessary, calculate if a repair does not buy the needed time and make more sense. Proper maintenance will help prevent unexpected breakdowns and the need for quick decisions.

When buying a vehicle, do not be pushed.  Just say NO!

When looking at new vehicles, leave your checkbook and credit cards at home. If your will power is weak, bring a strong-willed family member or friend along. Write the word ‘NO’ on an index card and put it in your pocket. When your resolve starts to weaken, take it out and look at it. Sleep on every decision, for at least one night. The salesperson will try to force a quick and emotional decision. Take time; no deal is so good that it will not wait until tomorrow.

A short test drive is not enough time to see how the vehicle feels. If the dealership does not allow extended drives, rent a vehicle with the features considered. Do not decide after driving the vehicle. Leave the dealership and allow a couple of days to think about the choices. Go to the list and sincerely question if the vehicle meets your needs.

Saying no is perfectly acceptable. A rushed feeling is a red-flag and means stop. A new car is a sizeable expense and one that we will live with, for a long time.

Do the before you shop, to avoid an expensive mistake

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