Buying Your Next Vehicle? 7 Important Questions to Ask

buying your next vehicle

Are you thinking about buying a new vehicle? Because vehicles cost so much money you want to be sure to find the right car for you. Before you even leave the house to start shopping you need to ask yourself some questions and seriously consider your needs and wants. As you work on answering these questions you can begin to make a short list of the vehicles that meet your requirements and fit within your budget.

What Type of Vehicle Do You Need?

The type of vehicle that you need will depend on your situation and personal requirements:

  1. Are you single or married?
  2. Do you have children?
  3. Do you travel a lot?
  4. Will you be using your vehicle for work purposes too?
  5. Will you ever be towing a fifth wheel?

Your answers will help you narrow down what type of vehicle to buy.

For example, if you have kids you may need a SUV with plenty of room for people and for storage. If you use your vehicle a lot for work, the type of vehicle you will buy will depend on the type of work you do. By that I mean, are you a salesman that is on the road a lot, or are you a contractor that needs a truck?

What Options Do You Need?

It seems like every few years car manufacturers include certain features as standard options and other features cost extra.

Think about the options that you must have, the options that would be nice to have, and the ones you can definitely live without.

Options are things like power windows, air conditioning, Bluetooth, heated seats, type of stereo, keyless entry, and so much more.

How Much Can You Afford to Spend?

One of the most important questions is how much can you afford to spend on a car. Are you planning to buy a vehicle that will cost you $50,000 or one that will cost you $28,000?

Have you been saving money each year for your next vehicle so that you can pay cash? Or do you plan on financing your next car through a car finance loan, or a lease from the dealership?

Will You Buy New or Used?

There are pros and cons to buying a used vehicle and a new vehicle. Some people feel that they lose a lot of money when they buy a new car. Others believe that buying a new car is important because then they are not buying someone else’s headaches.

Your decision to buy new or used will be based on your current requirements as well as your past history with other vehicles, and of course the amount of money you can afford to spend.

How Much Will Maintenance & Insurance Cost?

Once you have a short list of the type of vehicle you would like to buy you should phone your insurance agent and get some quotes on car insurance premiums. You may be surprised at how high your premiums will be for certain vehicles. I even remember a time when the insurance premiums were higher for red cars versus any other colors.

As well you want to take into account how much routine maintenance is going to cost while you own this car. Vehicles need oil changes, air filters, new brakes, the occasional new windshield, tires, etc. And if you buy a luxury or performance model you are generally going to pay a lot more for high end replacement parts versus their standard counterpart.

If you decide to buy a used vehicle that suddenly conks out six months later your maintenance costs may run quite a bit higher.

Take all of that into account, as you make your decision.

What is The Vehicle’s Reputation Like?

Once you have narrowed your choices down always do some research to check out the history and reliability of the manufacturer and the vehicle itself.

buying a new car

How Fuel Efficient is This Vehicle?

Since the price of gas continues to increase it is important that you consider how fuel efficient the vehicles that you are considering buying are, especially if you will be driving quite a bit to work, and to family activities. Compare the gas mileage of each vehicle to see which one will work the best based on your budget and finances. The less money you end up spending on gas, the better.


In the old days you had to visit car dealerships to gather information on each vehicle. Nowadays many of your questions can be answered by doing research online. This is a huge timesaver, and instead of being persuaded into buying a vehicle based on a sales pitch, you can buy your next vehicle based on concrete facts and your personal requirements.


    • Michelle

      Michelle 03/20/2014 8:15 a.m. #

      Maintenance and insurance costs are expenses that many don't think about when they buy a new or new-to-them car. If you're not careful, you may find yourself spending hundreds each month just on that!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/20/2014 4:16 p.m. #

        Yes, it is often overlooked because people get so excited about the car that they want to buy and forget about all the other stuff.

    • Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families

      Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families 03/20/2014 2:02 p.m. #

      Excellent tips, I always hate going to buy a car. It is such a long, boring process. We went through this last September, we traded our car in for a new model that got better gas mileage because my husband commutes a long distance for work. Plus it had more features that he liked, lowered our interest rate (so we will pay less interest on this car), and I love the heated seats.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/20/2014 4:18 p.m. #

        I agree, it can be a boring process, just like taking the car to the mechanic. I hate that too.

        Good for you guys though for finding a better deal on a newer vehicle.

    • Leonard @ The Wallet Doctor

      Leonard @ The Wallet Doctor 03/20/2014 3:03 p.m. #

      These are some great questions to consider. Its really important to carefully evaluate your needs prior to heading to the car lot. Smart choices will help in the long run considerably. Thanks for the post!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/20/2014 4:19 p.m. #

        Yes, many of these steps are often skipped, unfortunately. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Mario Adventuresinfrugal

      Mario Adventuresinfrugal 03/20/2014 3:10 p.m. #

      I think one other thing you can add is what you expect the car's resale value to be when you sell down the line, if you're looking for a true cost of ownership.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/20/2014 4:24 p.m. #

        Thanks for pointing that out!

        You are absolutely correct. That is very important and I did forget that point. Often times foreign cars hold their resale value better than North American cars.

    • Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr

      Tanya @ Eat Laugh Purr 03/20/2014 8:11 p.m. #

      Great tips, Sicorra! I'm fortunate that my dad is mechanic so he has been a huge help to me when I've gone car shopping. I do buy new cars, mostly because that's what my Dad prefers because I can be a little ... well, unobservant. :) The good news, I planned for it, so I avoided a car loan. My current car I've had for 8 years and I'm hoping Scarlett (yup, that's her name) has a few more years left in her!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/24/2014 8:59 a.m. #

        Tanya, you are so fortunate to have a father who is a mechanic and knows exactly what to look for. That saves you so many potential headaches. And 8 years is a great length of time to have your car and it still be running well. Ours is too.

    • Eva

      Eva 03/23/2014 5:06 p.m. #

      I have been looking for my first car for the past few months. Everything is so expensive! Thanks for a great article - very helpful!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/24/2014 9 a.m. #

        So true Eva! Vehicles are so expensive these days. Good luck in your search to find the right car for you.

    • Natalie

      Natalie 03/24/2014 9:15 a.m. #

      This post is an excellent go-to guide for people in the market for vehicles. Purchasing a car is a huge financial investment and can be overwhelming. This post does a great job breaking down the various things you should consider when buying a car. Thanks for sharing.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 03/24/2014 7:39 p.m. #

        I agree - it can be a huge investment. So doing work upfront and considering all of your options is very important. Thanks for stopping by Natalie!

    • Corinne @ One Income Life

      Corinne @ One Income Life 03/24/2014 10:50 p.m. #

      Hi Sicorra,
      These are great questions to ask. I'll admit that the last car we bought, I didn't consider many of these. Luckily, it's a fairly small car that wasn't super expensive, because, well, that's all I could afford. Our next car, however, will have to fit a family of 4 and be in our budget so we will definitely have to do more questioning and contemplating before investing money.

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