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Twelve Things to Consider When Buying a Car (Besides the Price)


Buying a car, whether new or used, involves more than just focusing on the price. With new cars averaging around $50,000 and used ones about $29,000, financial prudence is crucial. However, price should be just one aspect of your decision-making process. Consider the total ownership costs, including maintenance, insurance, and fuel efficiency. For example, maintenance costs vary significantly across models; Teslas may cost around $4,035 over ten years, while Land Rovers could reach $19,250. Insurance costs also differ, influenced by factors like make, model, and year, so it’s worth researching whether your premiums will be $1,600 or $2,000 annually. Fuel efficiency is another critical factor, with cars having better miles-per-gallon (MPG) ratings saving thousands at the pump.

Reliability is essential for minimizing disruptions caused by breakdowns. Some cars, like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, are less reliable, so checking reliability ratings can save future hassles. Theft rates should also be considered; high-target vehicles like the Chevy Silverado might increase the risk of theft. Resale value is another factor since cars depreciate at different rates. A good deal now may result in a significant loss later if the car depreciates rapidly.

Warranties can offer financial protection by covering certain repair costs. Ensure you understand what the warranty covers and its duration. The use case is vital; a car must meet your specific needs, such as transporting a family or commuting long distances. Safety ratings from sources like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) should not be overlooked, as they indicate how well the car protects its occupants.

Comfort and features are important for frequent drivers. A thorough test drive can help assess comfort, adjustability, and noise levels. For used cars, additional considerations include mileage, vehicle history, and overall condition. Checking for prior accidents or flood damage and inspecting for rust, wear, and interior odors can prevent costly mistakes. Ultimately, a well-rounded evaluation beyond the sticker price ensures a more satisfying and financially sound car purchase.
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