A car is a major purchase and a big investment. Everyone in the market for a new car struggles with how to choose the right one. The good news is that there is a car that will fit your needs and your budget. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to find it.

Consider whether you really need a new car

A new car loses a large amount of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. By the end of a year, your car is worth an average of 81% of what you paid for it. At two years, it will be worth an average of less than 70%. Three years into the car’s life, the value is 58% of the what it cost new.

The good news is that after the three year mark, depreciation slows down significantly. That means, if you buy a car that is over three years old but less than five can give you a car with nearly the same lifespan and service that you’d get from a new car at a fraction of the price—if it was taken care of well and doesn’t have too many miles, that is.

However, there are some good reasons to get a new car. If you’re the type of person who tends to drive your car until it absolutely dies, then it pays to get a car that will last as long as possible: one where you are in control of maintenance and upkeep right from the beginning.

Look at cars that hold their value well

Whether you’re looking to buy new or used, it pays to get a car with good resale value. If you buy new, you can be sure of getting a decent price for it should you choose to sell it later. If you buy used, you have a good chance of getting a quality vehicle.

Cars, and brands, retain their value if the quality is good. The better the resale value, the more likely it is that the car you’re looking at is good quality and will last well for you. Cars with good resale value tend to have fewer issue and are easier to sell.

Before you look, consider your precise needs

Once you start lookin at all the great cars available at an award winning VW dealership, it might seem overwhelming. It can be easy to lose track of which features are most important to you and your family. Make a list of all the things that are most important to you.

Some of the things to consider are how many people you will typically need to carry, what type of driving you’ll do most, and the cargo capacity you need. If you have a long commute or regularly make long trips, you’ll be interested in fuel economy and comfort.

What kind of weather can you expect where you live? Will you need all-wheel or 4-wheel drive? Also consider whether you’ll need to tow anything with your vehicle and how much space you have to store it. Finally, consider what kind of safety features are most important to you. Make a list of your priorities in the general order of importance.

Test drive several vehicles

Contact your car dealership and set up a day to test drive a few of the models you’re interested in. As you test out the car, try to mimic the conditions you usually drive in. Bring the whole family along so you can see if they fit the way you envision.

If you will commute a lot in the car, try to find some stop and go traffic to get in and see how things feel. Drive the car over a few bumps and check the responsiveness of the brakes and wheel. Take your time and don’t be afraid to ask questions or to look at other vehicles that might work for you.

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