How To Research A New Car

Some people break into a cold sweat at the thought of having to purchase a new car. Your head is full of questions like, "How much will I have to spend? Can I find a car that gets decent miles per gallon and still fit all of my kids inside?" Your stomach gets twisted into a nervous knot when you consider walking through the door of a car dealer.

Well, relax and take heart, prospective car buyer. Doing some basic homework up front will put you in a more confident, prepared position when the actual purchase time rolls around―whether you buy your new car online, or at your local car dealer.

The Internet has many resources that you can use to arm yourself with the knowledge you'll need to make a confident, educated decision about your new car purchase. Armed with your thorough, informed research, you won't be so easily swayed by the honed skills of the car dealer. Let's get started.

First, you'll need to determine what your new car needs are. If you are a single male, your needs will be vastly different from those of a soccer mom with three children, or a young couple. Get out your paper and pencil and use these ideas to help get you going:

1. Price: For most people who are not independently wealthy, price will shape many of the decisions related to choosing what kind of car you will purchase. Keep in mind that you'll have to factor in the price of auto insurance, fuel and maintenance costs to get the true price of driving a particular car.

2. Fuel Efficiency: With rising fuel prices, gas mileage has become an increasingly important factor in choosing a new car. If you must have a larger vehicle because of the number of passengers you transport, you will want to carefully compare mileage among available models in your size and price range.

3. Features and options: Is there a particular feature that your new car must have such as GPS, or anti-lock brakes, or an entertainment package?

4. Size: How many passengers need to ride in this car on a regular basis?

5. Safety: What safety features are a must-have for you?

6. Resale Value: What will your car be worth three to five years later if you want to sell it? Some models are famous for having good resale values; others lose a significant amount of their value the moment you drive off the lot.

Now that you have your list of what your new car must have it's time to go online and get a look at what's available. When it comes to researching anything online it's important to consider the sources of the information that you'll be accessing. For instance, if you consult the website for the car's manufacturer, you will find vastly different information than if you were to look at the website of an independent reviewer.

Keep in mind that when you are doing research you are looking for information that is as unbiased as possible. Doing your own careful research and verifying your sources will help you avoid the scams that may lurk out there waiting to take advantage of the uninformed.

The following websites have search functions where you can enter your information and they will produce a list of cars that fit your specifications. You can use these sites to save a tremendous amount of time, and the knowledge that you gain will save you thousands of dollars when it comes time to actually purchase your new car.


Autobytel is credited to be the first online car buying website. On this site you can do everything from the initial research to reading reviews, using payment calculators, and arranging financing.

Cars Direct:

Cars Direct is another full service car buying website. They offer vehicle reviews, ratings, and safety features. Buyers can also compare specs on competing vehicles. At Cars Direct, you can buy a new car online, find a local dealer who has the car you want, or purchase a used car. They will even handle your trade in.

Car Buying Tips:

Car Buying Tips is a "politically incorrect" website that is full of useful car buying information designed to save you money and teach you to avoid car buying scams.


Edmunds says, "Our mission is to be America's most influential and authoritative source and intermediary of automotive information." It is a free information site that will be a goldmine in your new car research process. You can find new car reviews, prices, dealer incentives, financing, and you can choose up to five models to compare side by side.

Now you have narrowed down your choices; you are educated about the car you plan to purchase, you know the features you want, and the price you are willing to pay. Your next steps will be to take your notes with you to the car dealer, or decide which website you will use to buy your new car online. Either way, you are now an educated consumer and you should feel confident and well-equipped to make this important buying decision.

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