The Tips Bank 

    Identifying the Vehicle That
Really Meets Your Driving Needs
                               © 2005 by Kyle Busch, author of:
                                     "Drive the Best for the Price ..." 
The number of vehicles that are available to
satisfy your driving needs has never been greater.
During the last decade, auto manufactures have
really jumped on the vehicle bandwagon by offering
numerous automobiles, sport-utilities, multipurpose
vehicles, minivans, and  trucks. When it comes to
buying a vehicle, the central question is: Which vehicle
is the right one for you?
Choices and More Choices:
In addition to having multiple divisions within a
single manufacturer, the choice of vehicles from
which to choose is enough to make the consumer
really spin his or her wheels trying to figure out just
what vehicle to purchase. 
The bottom line is that you deserve the most satisfaction
per mile when you sit behind the wheel.
A very dangerous frame of mind is to "fall head
over heels" for a particular make or model of vehicle
based purely on emotions. Although emotions are a
part of life, it is useful to put excessive emotions aside
and focus on your day-in and day-out transportation
Some Things to Consider:
The following are some things to consider that will
help you to choose the right vehicle:
 -  What are your present and future transportation
 -  How many people will you transport in the vehicle
    (seating capacity)?
 -  What type of objects will you transport in the
    vehicle (cargo space)?
 -  Will you be driving in bad weather or off-road
    (rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-wheel
 -  Do you have an overriding need for fuel economy,
    safety, luxury, etc.?
 -  Do you drive mostly in the city or on the interstate
    (automatic, semi-automatic, or manual transmission)?
 -  Do you have a preference for an American or a
    foreign vehicle?
 -  Do you need a vehicle with a full box type frame
     for off-road use or a lighter unit-body type frame
    designed to be driven on roads and highways?
 -  How long do you plan on driving the vehicle
     (warranty and maintenance)?
 -  What will it cost to insure the vehicle?
 -  How much can you afford to spend on a vehicle?
Information is Your Best Bet:
If you are not familiar with the numerous available
vehicles, or if you are still uncertain about which
vehicles will really meet your transportation needs,
visit your local public library and consult the yearly
publication or the monthly magazine (April issue)
of Consumer Reports. This objective resource
provides vehicle information such as the size,
weight, engine horsepower, optional equipment,
miles per gallon of fuel, etc.
Try to identify two or three vehicles that will
meet your driving needs. By identifying two
or three vehicles, you will have some latitude
and bargaining power when you go to purchase
a vehicle. Then be sure to consult the
frequency-of-repair information in Consumer
Reports to determine if the vehicles you have
identified are dependable and that they will not
need numerous future repairs. If you are seeking
to purchase a new vehicle, you can use the
frequency-of-repair information from the previous
two or three years for a specific vehicle.  
Last, but not least, read the road tests about the
vehicles of interest in magazines and/or Internet
publications such as Road & Track, Car and
, Motor Trend, and Motor Week. How
will reading the road tests be useful? Lets say
that you identify three vehicles in a particular
category. It initially appears that all three of the
vehicles will meet your driving needs. However,
say you have a preference for a vehicle that has
a soft ride or one that has certain convenience
features, the vehicle road tests will include
comments about such information. You can then
better determine which vehicle out of the three
is your A, B, and C choices. This will increase
the chance that you will be really happy with the
vehicle and want to drive it for an extended
period of time. 
Vehicle Prices:
If you are planning to buy a new vehicle, Consumer
provides information about what dealers
paid for vehicles. You can then figure what would
be a reasonable profit (say $1,000-$1,500) to
determine your target price to pay for the vehicle.
If you are planning to buy a used vehicle, be sure
to consult the N.A.D.A. - National Automotive
Dealer's Association Official Used Car Guide
your local library, a bank, or auto dealership. A
consumer addition of the guide is available,
however, it is better to consult the regular
dealer's edition.
The yellow pocket-size dealer's edition of the
guide specifies the retail, trade-in, and loan value
of domestic and imported automobiles. sport-utilities,
minivans, and trucks that are up to seven years old.
If the vehicle is greater than seven years old, you will
need to determine how much the price dropped from
the sixth to the seventh year as specified in the guide.
Then subtract that amount for each year that the
vehicle is beyond seven years old.
In addition to the N.A.D.A. guide, be certain
to consult the vehicle classified sections of the
largest newspapers (LA Times, Boston Globe, etc.)
in the United States. Many of the newspapers will
also be available at your local library. Large newspapers
usually have multiple listings for the vehicle of interest.
Since vehicle prices generally begin in major cities,
this is an easy way to get a read on vehicle price
When buying a used vehicle, try to obtain a vehicle
that is in excellent condition for a price that is
in-between the vehicle's retail and loan value.
Remember, information is power! Therefore, make
certain that you are well informed prior to buying a
Buying a Used Vehicle:  
Kyle Busch is the author of Drive the Best for the
Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility
Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money. He has over
300,000 miles on his 1986 Volkswagen Jetta - a used
vehicle that he bought in 1991 for $2,600. 


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