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  • Researching a New Car

    People's approach to researching a new car ranges from "I don't care, I just want it" to the research process taking on the complexities of a full-time job. But it does seem that there are two identifiable stages of researching a new car.

    New Cars: Beginning Your Research

    Some of the places you can begin to look at new cars include:

    Newspapers: Most local newspapers run special articles, supplements and ads at least one day of the week. Many times larger cities run special car features on Saturday, and of course, the Sunday edition will be a good source to check out the dealers' ads for new cars.

    TV: Now is the time to stop zoning out during commercials and begin taking a hard look at what is out there. You'll see the vehicles at their sexiest, of course, but after awhile you will likely see and hear about a make or model that especially appeals to your taste.

    Talk to friends: Let your family and friends know that you are planning to buy a new car. Once you open that discussion, it is likely that they will offer suggestions on what type of car and which make of car they have had particularly good (or bad) experience with. Listen to what they have to say, but keep in mind that this is anecdotal information only; your experience with a certain car may turn out to be quite different. If nothing else, they may recommend a dealer where they had a particularly positive buying experience.

    Online: The Internet is a terrific place to do some window-shopping for a new car. Nowadays, there are thousands of Web sites that offer cars for sale. Spending some time browsing through the cars on the market, including the prices and available options, is a great way to decide which car you want to buy―all from the comfort of your own home without dealing with any high-pressure sales tactics.

    Dealerships: Eventually, you will need to stop by a showroom or two. There is no substitute for actually seeing and sitting in a new vehicle, and taking a brochure on a specific model home to review will only increase your knowledge of the car and available options. If you think you might be swept away in a buying frenzy, be sure to leave your checkbook at home during the first visit.

    New Cars: Expanding the Research

    Consumer reports:
    There are numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations that compile and report on new cars on the Internet. Many of these sites will rate new vehicles, providing information on pricing, reliability, fuel economy, dimensions and performance. Some sites will provide side-by-side comparisons should you be trying to decide between two or more models. Try Consumer Reports or ConsumerGuide for example.

    Safety records:
    Since you are planning to buy a new car, why not ensure that the model you purchase is as safe as it can be on the road? Take few minutes to review the safety reports provided about your model. Many Web sites offer this sort of information, perhaps most popular is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), although there are many others to search. In addition to safety performance reports, you should also check some of these sites for any safety recalls issued on the models you are shopping for.

    Resale values:
    Most people have heard that a new car loses tremendous value the minute you drive it off the lot. While this is true, there are makes and models that are known to retain a higher percentage of value after the time of purchase. Many Web sites and articles review which models retain the best resale value, why not take a few minutes and see where the car of your choice stacks up against the other contenders? Finding this information may not change your mind about which model to buy, but at least you will know what the potential resale value of your car will likely be should you decide to sell or trade it in after a short period of time. One tried-and-true source for resale value is Kelley Blue Book

    Insurance rates:
    Your choice of car will determine how much your current insurance rates will be affected. If you have a good relationship with your current insurance agent, now is a good time to give them a call. If you have narrowed your choices down enough, they will be able to provide a quote for your new insurance rates based on what car you plan to buy and your driving record. If for some reason you'd rather not contact your current insurer, you can always get comparison quotes by major insurance carriers over the Internet. Visit our Guide to Auto Insurance for a list of auto insurance companies who can offer you a free quote.