When you consider that buying a car likely will be the second largest purchase you ever make, the weight of the decision can be overwhelming. There are several things to take into account, and that means you’ll need to do some research. Don’t worry—we’ve gathered a list of several things you should look for as you shop for a new vehicle.




Fuel Efficiency and Maintenance Costs

With gas prices not exactly easy on the wallet, fuel efficiency is an important factor for many shoppers when considering a new vehicle. You may find a great deal on a new car with a reasonable monthly payment only to realize that fuel costs would put you well beyond your budget. Check out sites like FuelEconomy.gov to compare estimated gas costs side-by-side. Also, check out their list of top picks for most fuel-efficient vehicles.

You can also research the typical cost of maintenance for your prospective vehicle. Several online resources provide guides and calculators to help you compare costs. Kelley Blue Book has created a handy guide that allows you to determine the 5-year cost to own a vehicle, factoring in out-of-pocket expenses like insurance, fuel, state fees, financing, maintenance, repairs and depreciation.

Size and Comfort

Take into consideration the number of people and amount of stuff you’ll need to fit into your new car. Do you have a large family? Do you have a small child who requires tons of extra baggage whenever you go on a trip? Do you have to fit large pieces of equipment in your car on a regular basis? These are the things you’ll want to think about as you decide just how much car you really need. You might find that you won’t need a full-size SUV, and the additional costs that come with it, if you won’t use that extra space on a regular basis. Likewise, if you have a family of six, a compact sedan is likely out of the question. When you consider that Americans drive twice as much now as they did in 1980, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is comfortable.

As Judy Schumacher-Tilton, president of Tilton Automotive Group, points out, “You have to judge the size of your family and your needs. Everything is particular to your needs.”

Car Safety

No matter which vehicle you’re considering, safety is always an important factor to consider. Check with sites like Safecar.gov and IIHS.org, where you can search for and compare crash test safety ratings. The United Services Automobile Association lists several safety features to think about when you’re buying a car, including the following:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Backup camera
  • Parking assist
  • Forward collision avoidance system
  • Autonomous braking
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Reverse backup sensors
  • Sideview assist

You’ll be investing a lot in your new vehicle, including the well being of your family and friends, so it’s very important to thoroughly examine the history and features of each car you’re considering.

Technology and Infotainment

If you’re a techie who’s looking for the most up-to-date gadgets and gizmos in your car, you’re in luck. There are several new technologies on the rise in the auto industry, CNN.com points out. While some of them are popping up in the market now, like driver assistance and in-car WiFi hotspots, others are on the horizon. Here are a few more of the exciting new features in vehicle technology:

  • Exterior airbags
  • Cars that communicate
  • Automated driving
  • Automation on the road

It’s important to choose a car you can enjoy and live with on a daily basis- and the more research you do on your new vehicle, the more likely you’ll be happy with your purchase. As always, the experts at your local dealership can help answer your questions and find the right fit for you.

What do you find most important to research when you’re looking for a new vehicle? Share with us in the comments section below!