When making the decision on which vehicle to choose, there are some specific things you should look into. If you are not certain which features are the most important, there are numerous resources where you can check on a vehicle’s safety features and how well they did when being tested for safety. Some great resources are the U.S. Department of Transportation, Consumer Digest, or literally hundreds of online Websites. Simply type in the keyword “Vehicle Safety Reports.” The Highway Loss Data Institute operated in Arlington, Virginia is another great resource that compiles ratings based on the frequency of medical claims filed for specific vehicle models and makes.

The main areas you should compare are safety, warranties, fuel economy, reliability, operating costs, and performance.

  • SAFETY – Obviously this is a number one factor when deciding on a vehicle. Think about the different safety features offered and what you consider important for you. Air bags have become an important feature as well as built-in child safety seats, anti-lock brakes, and traction control for slippery roads.
  • WARRANTIES – Take the time to do a thorough comparison of the different warranties and what they cover. Take into consideration the duration of the warranty, deductibles, and limitations on mileage.When you purchase a new vehicle, it automatically comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, which is a promise from the manufacturer that the vehicle will perform as it was meant to.Read your warranty very carefully and compare the contents with that of a service contract, which will cost you additional money. If the service contract does not offer more than your warranty does, it probably is not worth the additional cost. However, if you do make the decision to purchase a service contract, shop around. Buying one from the dealer as opposed to your insurance company could cost you as much as 50% more. If you are not sure which companies are trustworthy, contact the local branch of the Better Business Bureau, where you will be able to research a company’s reputation. In addition, understand exactly what this contract covers. If you do not understand, ask. Determine which repair bills will be covered, what locations your vehicle can be serviced in, and if there are any additional charges other than the deductible.If the vehicle you are buying is new, before purchasing an extended warranty, first look at the factory warranty provided by the manufacturer. If you are buying a late model used vehicle, there is a possibility that the original factory warranty or a portion thereof, could still be in effect. Although it may not cover all of the original items, it may still cover enough that an extended warranty is not required.Before signing up for any warranty, carefully research the policy’s deductible. Look for things like “per visit” or “per repair” as these expenses can add up quickly. Also, ensure that you can have your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice. Some warranties specify where you can go and the costs may be higher than what you would normally pay. In addition, research whether or not you will be required to pay out of pocket for any repairs, which would then be reimbursed. If you do pay out of pocket, what is the turn-around time for payment to be made to you? You need to understand what is and what is not covered. Things you want to look for are part breakage, overheating problems, wear and tear, etc.Depending on the warranty, it may or may not be transferable to another party.Just be sure to compare all options. You can go online and conduct research on the Internet if needed. Remember to compare warranties offered by the manufacturer as some have very strong warranties and buying an extended warranty is NOT necessary .
  • The dealer makes money off of the extended warranty and will always try to sell it. You can always shop for one after the Manufactures warranty has expired. Don’t be pressured.
  • FUEL ECONOMY – Over the past several years, the Federal government has established a mandate requiring that fuel economy be improved on. Many years ago, if a vehicle received 15 miles to the gallon, that was amazing. Now with this new mandate, the average fuel economy is more than 28 miles per gallon.
  • RELIABILITY – There are several resources that provide comparisons on maintenance costs as well as the number of complaints filed on any particular vehicle model. Although you need to be extremely thorough when purchasing a used vehicle, there are now established Lemon Laws that protect the consumer should you buy a vehicle that requires constant repairs.
  • OPERATING COSTS – Numerous publications are available that provide estimates on the yearly operating expense of a vehicle. As would be expected, these costs can have a large variance from one model to another. The main factors covered in these costs are maintenance, fuel, and tires.
  • PERFORMANCE – Check out the performance of the vehicle. Specifications include the size of the engine, horsepower, curb weight, gas mileage, etc. For new vehicles, all of this information should be readily available to you. For used vehicles, you may need to do some further research going back to the business that provided the maintenance.
  • Used CARS– When purchasing a used car, always get a CARFAX report showing the vehicles history. Do not trust a dealer or private party to disclose repair history or accidents. Some sellers are pros and buy salvaged ( wrecked) vehicles and sell at market prices. Please do not be a victim. You will most likely have problems insuring or reselling this vehicle because it’s value is greatly diminished. We have found many of these people selling these cars on the popular classified sites. Once you purchase the vehicle there is nothing you can do. Have this carfax done for any used car you are considering. The cost of the report is worth the peace of mind!