With so many new cars on the market and a plethora of models to choose from, finding the right vehicle to suit your needs can be a challenge. Car shopping can be incredibly frustrating and confusing, resulting in many people simply buying the same model time and again. However, as your life evolves and your circumstances change, purchasing the same model every time you buy a new car can turn problematic. Before you head to the dealership, here are five things you should do to make sure you’re purchasing the vehicle that best suits your needs.

Figure out What You Want

When picking a car, it is essential to understand the difference between needs and wants. If you try to purchase a vehicle that does everything, even if you only need it to drive around town, you could end up buying too much car and paying for it. You need to think about your lifestyle and how the car will fit into it, explains the experts at U.S. News and World Report. To figure out the best option, take the time to write down what you need the car to do. Taking this step will help you to narrow down your choices.

Set Your Budget

The experts at Edmunds say that unless you are paying cash for your car, it is essential to think about your budget, keeping in mind that your payment should be no more than 20 percent of your monthly take-home pay. You also need to consider things like the insurance, fuel, repairs, maintenance, and registration when you are determining your budget. You can use a handy car loan calculator to help you find a car that will fit comfortably within the budget you set.

Use a Car Finder Tool

Many automotive websites have tools that can help you filter your search by vehicle category, price, and options. Create a target list of five cars to further research. Look at different reviews by automotive experts and owners to help you narrow down your choice.

Take a Test Drive

The only way you can truly choose the right car is by testing driving at least three of your top choices. Test driving can be easier said than done. The best way to complete this essential step is by setting aside a morning when most car lots are empty. This is usually sometime during the week. Before you head over, call the dealerships internet manager and request to schedule a test drive. Drive all three target cars back-to-back, so you have all your first impressions fresh in your mind.

Review Your Research

After you’ve test driven all your top choices, head back home and review your research. If, after test driving the cars, you are still undecided, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board. However, if your decision is clear, you can head to the dealership and start the process of purchasing your new car.

When you are getting ready to purchase a new car, it’s important to get something that works best for you and your family. Cover all the practical bases first before allowing yourself to choose a vehicle based on your feelings. This will help you find a car that you will enjoy and one that will serve your needs.

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