QuotesChimp guide to buying the right make and model

Makes and models

Choosing the right type of vehicle is essential if you're going to get the best value for money out of ownership. QuotesChimp offers a guide on how to decide which make and model is best for you.

Think about your needs

Start by making a list of the features you need in an ideal vehicle, e.g.:

    » if you have longer commutes, gas economy should be a priority;

    » if you have a family or are likely to be carrying passengers on a regular basis, a four-door model will be more convenient;

    » if you are likely to face snow in winter or need to drive on dirt roads, a four-wheel drive may be better;

    » and so on.

Compare features and performance

Now you know what your ideal vehicle should do, look at the possible makes and models. This will require a little research:

    » ask family, friends, and anyone you know with real expertise;

    » get sales literature from dealers;

    » read the magazines both in print and online for reviews.

You're looking for information on each model's:

    » safety;

    » reliability;

    » comfort;

    » gas economy;

    » performance;

    » how well it holds its value.

Pricing and finance

Depending on the time of year, dealerships offer discounts or subsidies on auto loans. This can save significant amounts of money either in the retail price or the amount of interest you pay on the auto loan. You should also factor in the amount of sales tax and other costs when you take over ownership, and the rate of depreciation. Some makes and models depreciate faster than others.

Don't ignore the dealerships

No matter what the reputation of the makes and models, you also need to ask around for information on the local dealers. Your local Better Business Bureau should be able to help decide how good a service you're likely to receive.

Now get car insurance quotes

When you know what makes and models you might buy and which dealerships you might trust, it's time to get quotes. Remember, you're looking at the whole package and not any one factor on its own. So it might be better to pay a higher retail price for a model that has good gas economy, costs very little to maintain, and depreciates slowly even though the average cost of insurance is high. Why? Because over the next five years, you will save more than if you had bought a gas guzzler that keeps breaking down and loses secondhand value because no one wants to buy them.

As in everything you plan to do involving larger sums of money, you need to strike the right balance. After buying a house, buying a vehicle is the most expensive asset you will buy except, unlike the average house over your lifetime which is likely to appreciate in value, vehicles lose value the moment you drive them off the dealer's lot. You're paying for the privilege of driving on the road. So it's up to you to decide what represents the best return on the money you will pay out each year as the cost of ownership and car insurance.