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April 09, 2013

Your First New Car: What to Look For

Your First New CarChoosing your first new car is a big decision. Whether you opt for a snazzy sports car with a sunroof, a rugged SUV or a trusted and time-honored sedan, your car is a big-ticket purchase. 

There’s nothing like leaving the dealership confident, with the gleaming dashboard and new car smell a happy reminder that you made the right choice, and that it'll last a long time.

While some people may find it intimidating to haggle with a car salesman or overwhelming to choose from all the options out there, if you arm yourself with knowledge, buying a new car can be a good experience. You may want to consider following these tips from as you embark on your quest to find the right car for you:

Do Your Homework

A vehicle is a major purchase, so you may want to take your time while deciding what you want. First, you should consider what's most important to you. Are you looking for something with a great safety rating? A lot of room for kids and cargo? Slick, sporty style? Here are some things you may want to consider:

Size and space. Where you live and the type of available parking space are major considerations in the type of vehicle you may want to buy.  If you’re a city dweller allotted a small space to park, it may not be practical for you to buy the biggest SUV on the lot. But, if you reside in the suburbs with an ample driveway or a multi-car garage, then this sort of restriction won’t apply. 

In addition to your parking options, you may also want to consider the space your car offers for passengers and people. If you ride solo and don't use your trunk often, you may opt for a smaller car than a family with three kids or someone who needs a lot of cargo space.

Weather and driving conditions. Where you drive is also going to affect the type of vehicle you buy. From the climate to the traffic patterns, different types of vehicles may be practical for different situations. Does your area get a lot of snow in the winter? You may want to think about a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle. Does the gorgeous weather make you want to drive with the wind in your hair? A convertible might be your dream car. Is your city congested, with parking at a premium? You may want to think about a smaller car that's easier to parallel park. 

Safety features.  Whether you're alone in the car or driving a van full of passengers, safety is something to think about. From frontal crashes to rollovers, all automobiles are tested to determine how they withstand an accident. Vehicles are scored on a five-star safety rating scale created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to give consumers an idea of the safety of various models.

Fuel economy. No one wants to spend more than they have to on gas, so another thing to consider about your prospective new car is its fuel efficiency. If buying a car that uses less gas is one of your goals, the U.S. Department of Energy offers information on fuel efficiency and annual gas cost estimates for various vehicle makes, models and years on its website

If you're looking to
 use less gas, a hybrid may be an option for you. The U.S. Department of Energy also offers a tool that helps you figure out whether buying a hybrid vehicle would save you money.

Manufacturers' websites generally provide information on all their vehicles' specs, while other sites, like the 
Kelley Blue Book website or, can give you information on pricing, reviews and safety comparisons.

Insurance cost. When you're comparing different vehicles you may also want to
get an auto insurance quote for each one. Insurance premium costs can differ between makes and models, so in order to get the full picture of how much a certain car is going to cost you, make sure to take auto insurance into account. 

Shop Around

When it comes to getting the best deal on a new car, patience often pays off. Negotiate with several car dealers, and don’t be afraid to ask about rebates and special discounts. Often, the sticker price can be negotiated, and the more information you have -- such as the base price the dealer paid for the vehicle -- the better chance you may have of getting a better deal.

Be Confident

Buying a new car for the first time can be a little intimidating. It’s a big purchase. However, don’t be afraid to walk away from a car salesman if you think you can get a better price elsewhere. If you don't feel confident about your level of knowledge or your bargaining skills, you may want to consider taking a trusted friend or family member with you to the dealer to help.

So, if you have dreams of driving a shiny new car home from the dealership, do your homework. Make sure you know what you want, be prepared to negotiate, and pretty soon, you could be enjoying your dream car.

This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.




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