Vehicle Selection

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(We suggest that you read this guide in order, as it is laid out to help you through the process in a way to maximize your ability to get the car you really want at a price that you’ll love!)

Before we can help you get your best deal you need to decide what sort of car or truck you’re looking for.

This chapter will assist you in determining:

  • What features you really need and which vehicles can fulfill those needs
  • What additional options you would like to get *if* you can find room in your budget
  • What price range you should be looking in
  • If you should be looking at new or used cars
  • If you should consider leasing as an alternative to buying
  • What you total cost of ownership (how much that new car is really going to cost you over time)

*If you already know what cars you have picked out and are ready to hit the dealership then:
Skip to Test drives


First off, lets take a moment to answer these questions to help you think about what features you really need.

  1. How many people will you need to be able to fit in the vehicle (regularly and occasionally)?
  2. Does your driveway or garage have limitations on what size car you can fit there?
  3. Do you live in (or regularly travel to) an area where you should have 4-wheel or all-wheel drive?
  4. Do you need to be able to transport large cargo?
  5. How long is your commute and will you need to have a car that gets high gas mileage?
  6. Which safety features are important to you?
  7. Do you prefer a comfortable ride or better handling and more feel of the road?
  8. Do you have a strong preference/need for either manual or automatic transmission?
  9. What additional features and options would you be o.k. without but would like to have if possible?

After answering those questions, you should have a good general idea of what kind of car you’re looking for. For example, if you have a large family you will have with you in the car regularly it would be impractical to buy a subcompact they will barely fit in but if you’re only transporting the whole family in this car on rare occasions it would be a waste to buy a minivan or SUV.

Price Range
Next you need to determine what price range you should be considering in your purchase. If you are planning to make payments there are a number of tools you can use to do this but one of the easiest I have found is the Affordability Calculator at Using that you should be able to determine what range in price you should be looking at to achieve your desired payment. You can also try pricing out cars there and equipping them with your must-have features and different amounts of your ‘nice to have’ features to see where you stand affordability-wise .

Cash buyers will likely already have a total they’re looking to spend but just need to take into account the tax rate on car purchases in your area and another 1.5-2% or so for dealer and dmv fees.

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