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Ready for a New Car? Here is How to Find the Best Fit

Arm yourself with knowledge about the latest car features before hitting the dealership.

by Navy Federal on March 25, 2016


Choosing the right car can be exciting and daunting. To ensure you get the best deal on the best car for your needs, you'll want to take time to establish what you're looking for in a car before you start negotiating. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you search for the ideal car:

  • What is my spending limit? If you don't set a clear limit, you could be tempted by cars that you really can't afford. Instead, look at your monthly spending and see how much cash could go toward a car payment. You can use Navy Federal's car loan calculator to determine what you can afford based on various interest rates and terms (length of loan).
  • Should I go new or used? An older car might be cheaper, but potential repair costs could diminish your savings. Consider a car that is two or three years old to get affordable modern features without the wear and tear of an older model.
  • How do I plan to use the vehicle? This will affect the size and type you choose. An SUV or pickup truck makes sense if you're toting equipment, while a smaller, fuel-efficient vehicle may be better for long commutes and tight parking spaces. Don't just think of the here and now, either. Factor in where you'd like to be in five years to figure out what car to get now.
  • What are my must-have features? What features does your car need so you won't be wishing you had a new one in a few years? Are heated seats a must in the winter? Do you prefer the thrill of manual transmission versus automatic? Maybe you need a larger, V6 engine to accelerate or drive in rough terrain. If you're buying new, stick to your wish list and resist add-ons you weren't already planning to get.
  • Which safety features do I need? Modern cars have a plethora of safety features available outside of seatbelts and airbags. For example, there are crash avoidance features such as auto emergency braking and traction control. You may wish to consult safety ratings from sites such as iihs.org, a nonprofit organization focused on improving highway safety.

Once you've narrowed down your choices, read reviews from a variety of sources. And, while taking a test drive will give you an idea of how a car handles, it can be difficult to make a confident purchase based on 15 minutes of driving. If you want to get a better feel for daily use, you could rent the same model for a weekend. It might seem like unnecessary spending, but if your rental experience is negative, you could prevent significant buyer's remorse. When you've answered these questions and feel ready to buy a car, check with Navy Federal for auto loan rates and quick and convenient pre-approvals. If you're looking for a hassle-free auto buying experience, look no further than our Auto Buying Program. There, you'll find exclusive, low, established pricing on your next new or used vehicle, with an easy application and fast approval process.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.