Regardless of which group buyers fall into, there are some things all consumers should consider before buying their next vehicle.

* Driver needs: A large sport utility vehicle might be your dream vehicle, but it might not be the most practical car to start parking in your garage. When examining your vehicle needs, ask yourself what you use the car for. Is it just a vessel to get you from point A to point B? Do you routinely use your vehicle to take your children and their teammates to and from soccer practice? Is your commute long or short? Each of these things should factor into your decision. For example, if your commute to work is especially long, then perhaps a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle is the most practical choice. However, if you routinely carpool or use your car to get the kids to and fro, then a larger vehicle with a more roomy interior might be the best bet regardless of its fuel efficiency.

* Budget: Your budget is perhaps the biggest thing to consider when shopping for a new vehicle. Many buyers intend to finance or lease a vehicle, and sites such as can help prospective buyers estimate what their monthly car payment will be. The larger the down payment you’re able to make, the less your monthly payment will be. In addition, those who intend to finance their vehicle purchases should consider the length of their finance agreement. You might be able to finance a vehicle purchase in as little as 12 months or as long as 72 months. The longer your agreement, the less you will be paying each month. However, you will pay more interest the longer your agreement is and your payment is likely to be the same in the 72nd month, when the vehicle has significantly depreciated in value, as it was in the first month when the vehicle’s value was at its peak.

* Lease or buy: The decision to lease or buy is something to consider. Leasing allows drivers to drive a brand new car for far less money than if they were to purchase the vehicle outright, and the terms of a lease are typically far shorter than those when buyers are financing, which allows drivers to get a new vehicle more often. Buying or financing a vehicle has its advantages as well, most notably that you will be making payments for something you’re eventually going to own. In addition, buying or financing gives consumers more flexibility, as they’re allowed to sell the car whenever they choose without penalty, something that is not allowed under many lease agreements. In addition, there are no mileage restrictions when buying or financing, while such restrictions are typical when leasing a vehicle.

* Insurance: Some vehicles are more expensive to insure than others. Insurance companies base insurance rates on a host of factors, but those vehicles that have the strongest safety records and are less likely to be stolen tend to cost less to insure. How much you will pay to insure a vehicle also depends on how you will be paying for it. Lenders typically require borrowers who are financing or leasing a vehicle to fully insure the car, which costs considerably more than basic insurance coverage that drivers who buy their vehicles outright tend to choose. Weigh the costs of insuring different makes or models before making your purchase.

Buying a new vehicle requires a considerable financial investment, so buyers should weigh a host of factors before driving their next vehicle off the lot.

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