If only you could just swipe right.
It gets frustrating when so many dates don’t go anywhere, but this is the price you pay to meet the perfect person for you. Buying a car is the same way. You’ll experience several disappointments before you find the right one.
It’s hard, but don’t settle for a bad match. “I know he plays video games all day… and we don’t really have anything in common besides a favorite sports team… but it will totally work out!” Famous last words spoken by women who find themselves in crappy relationships.
Don’t settle for a crappy car, too! “Crappy” means different things to different people–performance, comfort, personality. So how do you know which car is going to be the right one? We are here to help.
Can you spend this much time together?
According to AAA, the average American spends 46 minutes driving per day. That adds up to almost 300 hours – or 12 days! – a year. That’s a long time to spend in an environment you dislike. Your car should feel like a second home. Your car needs to be compatible with your style and your lifestyle.
Will your crew approve?
Imagine who is in your passenger seat. Are you a sole navigator? Do you take road trips with a friend? Is there a backseat full of children (or would you like that to be the case in the not-so-distant future)? Unfortunately, most drivers don’t take the time to reflect about this stuff before they decide to buy a car. As a consequence, they make a regrettable decision and end up having to trade within a year or two.
How much–and what– will you haul?
Consider your favorite hobbies. Do you enjoy outdoor activities like cycling, kayaking, camping, boating, or four-wheeling? Some cars can handle off-road driving without a problem. Others would perform badly (and you might end up breaking down, which is one of the most stressful things ever). Some cars can haul heavy loads without any issues. Others don’t have the strength and power for that.
What matters most? Prioritize your values
Think about your values. Would you rather have a sensible and cost-efficient vehicle or a luxury car that turns heads? Do you feel more safe and secure inside a car equipped with the latest and greatest safety features, or do you believe paying attention to the road is the best form of accident prevention? Are you looking for the safest or fastest car? Would you rather own the most affordable car or a fancy car?
What’s it worth to you?
That last point is often where the buying dream comes crashing down. Don’t let it. Be realistic about your budget. No one wants to skip girl’s night out or pass by a sale at Saks because a hefty car payment eats up too much of your paycheck. Know what you can realistically spend on your new car. Consider your downpayment or trade in, how long you intend to own the car, other costs like gas, tolls and insurance, and of course, know if a lease deal is realistic for your driving demands. If that Mercedes-Benz still fits the picture and you need to be swathed in luxury, then go for it!
Give your prospective car a name
People care more about things that have a name. Think of a pet, friend, teacher, mentor, family member, or famous person who has made a positive impact in your life. Now you’re not just looking for “a car.” You’re searching for your new friend, Betsy. (Fun Fact: “Betsy” is my car’s name. What’s yours?) Not sure you know yet? That’s okay. Give each top contender a name, sort of like “If it’s a boy, he’s Ross, if it’s a girl, she’s Rachel.” You’ll know when you have the right one.
Keep a car journal
Write down your answers to all these questions in a notebook. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these questions. It all depends on your unique situation. Don’t buy a car that doesn’t meet your needs. With so many dealers and car shopping sites available, there’s no excuse. Reflect about the questions I posed here. Sleep on it and give them a second look the next day. Car shopping is less stressful when you know what you’re looking for. If a car doesn’t fit your criteria, forget about it and move on to the next one.
Know someone who needs to see this? Do her a favor and share!