Buying a vehicle is one of the biggest purchases most people make. Buying a house or paying for an education are usually the only other purchases that can exceed an automotive transaction.

As automotive professionals, we understand that this is a big decision for you, and want to make sure that you have all of the information needed to make the right choice. To help, here are the eight most important things you should consider when buying a vehicle:

1. Your current vehicle

If you currently own a vehicle, you need to think about what you want to do with it. Usually the easiest thing to do is trade it in when you buy a car. Some people choose to sell it themselves hoping to get more money that way, but oftentimes the hassle and work associated with selling it can cancel out any benefit. You can also give the vehicle as a gift to a friend or family member, or give it to a charitable organization that accepts cars.

2. Features

You should think about what features you’re looking for in your next vehicle, and which of those are non-negotiables. For instance, having all-wheel drive or a navigation system might be a requirement for you, while a moonroof might be a “nice-to-have” but not a deal-breaker. Make a list of the things you can’t live without so you can better identify what you’re looking for.

3. Timing

Think about what will be the best time for you to buy. If you’re expecting a raise at work, it might be the best time to reward yourself. Or if you want to wait to save up a certain amount of money before buying something, plan accordingly. Of course, many people use their tax refunds as the down payment on their vehicles.

4. Budget

It’s always good to come up with a budget for how much you’re willing to spend on a vehicle. This can be a total purchase price figure, or a monthly payment figure. However, don’t make it too rigid because you might come across a vehicle that costs a few bucks more, but will be worth it to you. Also, don’t forget about your car insurance costs.

5. Credit

Your credit will, for better or worse, be the deciding factor in the interest rate that you’ll qualify for on a car purchase. People with great credit will get the best possible interest rates. The dealership and salespeople will have little control over your interest rate if your credit isn’t very good. That being said, there’s no need to worry if it’s spotty. There are lots of options out there and most people can qualify for financing.

6. Your lifestyle

Think about what your lifestyle is like before buying your next vehicle. Do you mostly use a vehicle for your commute, or do you go on fishing and camping trips to the mountains? Do you have a large family or is it just you and your puggle? You should find the right vehicle that matches your lifestyle (and the one your puggle will like).

7. The future

Similar to your current lifestyle, try thinking a little bit ahead to what you have planned for your life for the next few years. If you don’t know the answer, that’s ok! But if you are planning on growing your family soon, or starting a business that requires a certain type of vehicle, then it’s in your best interests to plan accordingly.

8. The salesperson

Who you buy a vehicle from can be just as important as the vehicle itself. It can affect your price, your experience, and any other issues or concerns that could possibly come up after the transaction. It’s always better to work with someone you can trust and feel comfortable with, so don’t assume that all automotive sales consultants are created equal. And of course, feel free to give me a call if you have any automotive questions at all. I’d be happy to help!