Here's a checklist to help you research the car you're interested in buying, just to make sure you're getting the best deal you can get.
* Before even going to the lot, determine which car model(s) you are interested in. Then research them online - and this works if you're purchasing new or used. Check safercar.gov for consumer complaints and government notices about recalls - especially if you're shopping used. See if there are any articles about the manufacturing company that could affect your purchasing decision.
* Determine how expensive it will be for you to replace auto and body parts on the car as it ages. For example, will replacing the shocks or struts cost you around $200 or $1400? Or will replacing the belts, brakes, headlights or radiator cost more than they would on a different model? For a great resource to compare the cost of replacement auto parts, look up the Repair Index at online auto parts retailer RockAuto.com.
* If you're buying used, check out the car's history. You can opt to purchase a vehicle history report from a number of different companies, or visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System at nmvtis.gov for additional information and resources.
* When you are getting close to making a purchase, make sure you really know how to drive the car. With the massive amounts of technology installed in newer cars, you might find you are more interested in a vehicle you can easily figure out how to put the transmission in neutral, turn the engine on and off, apply the parking brake and do other essential operations.
* Check with your insurance agent about the potential higher expenses you may have to pay when you purchase your new car. A car model that is less safe, or more expensive to repair will have higher insurance premiums, as will cars that are high on the theft list. Make sure those expenses don't go over your budgeted amount for insurance.
The purchase of a new vehicle is big enough that you really need to do good homework on your purchase before you hand over the cash. Get your questions answered, and then enjoy driving your new car.