man buying a car

Steps to Finding the Right Car for You

Planning to bring home a new car is an exciting decision. But in order to bring your plan to action, there’s a whole lot of effort that’s needed. Be it choosing the right segment, shortlisting the perfect model, deciding on the payment mode, or sorting the documentation, buying a car isn’t as simple as it might seem. More than just financial planning, there’s a lot of work that goes into the process. One wrong step and you will forever regret your decision! But don’t get upset just yet, because we are here to help you sail through the journey of bringing home the perfect car. So say goodbye to all the confusion and read on to master the art of finding the right car.

Detail Your Requirements

The first step in finding the right car for yourself is having a clear idea of what you need and expect from your car. While for some, cars are a status symbol, for others it might be their daily commute. While some might want their cars to be fast, premium and luxurious, there might be others that focus on efficiency, value for money and overall practicality. 

This is why detailing your requirements can come in handy and save you from bringing home a car that might not perform as per your expectation. When it comes to finding the right car, go with what you need rather than what you want. Start by asking yourself basic questions.

  • What do you need your car for? 
  • How many people should your car seat? 
  • How much do you plan to travel in a week? 
  • Do you have ample parking space for a new car? 
  • Where would you run your car the most?

Once you have the basics sorted, think more about what kind of car you need. Some crucial questions that can help you clear your mind can be:

  • Do you want a manual or automatic transmission?
  • What are the essential safety features that need to be in the car?
  • Do you need an all-wheel drive?
  • What are the must-have features?
  • What fuel option you are most comfortable with?
  • Do you need extra cargo space?

The questions are never-ending, but a good way to have them all sorted is by preparing a priority-wise questionnaire and then answering it accordingly and narrowing down your requirements.

ALSO READ: How to Drive an Automatic Car: Master your First Drive

Set A Budget

Irrespective of whether you finance your car or not, setting a budget is highly important when choosing the right car. No matter what a car means to you, there is no way you can go beyond what you can really afford. When setting out a budget, it is important to be realistic and practical.

No matter whether you buy a used or new car if you are planning to finance your car, start by figuring out how much money you can afford to shell out towards the monthly EMIs. While this calculation is a subjective one, it is generally recommended to not pay more than 15-20% of what you earn as the EMI. Nonetheless, the choice is completely yours. 

While deciding upon the budget, make sure to take into account other costs like insurance, fuel expenses and service costs as well. With a clear budget in mind, you can really narrow down your choices. If you are planning to buy a used car, a clear budget can help you fairly evaluate all your options to find the most value-for-money deal. 

Decide Between Buying A New Or Used Car

Now that you have your requirements and budget sorted, it’s time to take another crucial decision. Whether to go for a brand new car or a pre-owned one. While brand new cars surely have a charm, buying a used car can always be a smarter choice. 

The moment a brand new car comes out of the showroom, it loses about 20% of its value. That’s not all, not only will you pay a heavy sum for insurance and registration, every year your brand-new car will undergo depreciation at a much faster rate when compared to a used car. With that said, new cars do come with absolute peace of mind especially when it comes to brand warranty and car condition.

ALSO READ: Benefits of Buying a Used Car

On the other hand, used cars offer a great deal of savings in the form of lower depreciation, no registration cost, savings on insurance premiums, and lower upfront costs. However, finding a  used car in good condition from a transparent and honest dealer or owner can be quite a task. The choice is yours and we hope you make a smart move.

Shortlist Cars Within Your Requirements

Done with deciding whether to buy a new or used car? It’s time to select the car that checks all your requirements. From entry-level hatchbacks to sizable SUVs, each car segment has its own pros and cons. Weight it all together and pick the segment/s that suits your needs. 

Now with a segment or segments in mind, start by exploring all the options available. Make use of online aggregators and car information platforms including online used car sellers to have a fair idea of every model available. Indulge in head-on comparisons between cars to compare price, features, powertrain and safety, to narrow down your searches. 

When shortlisting cars that fit your requirement, make sure to consider things like resale value and brand warranty details if buying a new car. If planning to buy a used car, make sure to compare kilometres driven and make year along with other requisites.

Calculate the Cost of Ownership

Calculating the long-term cost of ownership is another crucial thing in order to find the right car for yourself. Despite cars being similarly priced, one car can be substantially cheaper to own than the other. Not just maintenance cost, even the depreciation rate is different for different cars. 

ALSO READ: Cost of Car Ownership: Leasing vs Buying

In order to have a fair idea about the long-term cost of ownership, research the depreciation rate of the vehicle, cost of running, cost of maintenance, common problems, and insurance premium rate. Take help from online automotive/car selling or reselling portals to have a fair idea of the long-term ownership cost that goes well beyond what you initially pay.

Test Drive

Pankaj Rana test driving Toyota Corolla at Spinny

Now that you’ve selected your preferred car, it’s time to take it out for a spin in order to see what it’s worth. Get in touch with the dealership and schedule a test drive for the car you love, no matter new or used. Once you have a test drive scheduled, reach the dealership/car hub in daylight so that you don’t miss out on anything during your preliminary inspection. Make sure to also test out the vehicle during the night, in order to judge things like headlight coverage, interior lighting, tail lamps and brake lights as well as the overall driving experience.

Make a friendly rapport with the salesperson and ask all the questions you have in mind about the car. Ask about the real-world mileage, user-reported cons, common problems and strong points of the vehicle. If buying a used car, make sure to inspect all documents and analyse the car from the outside and inside beforehand, so that you don’t get heartbroken later on. We would advise you to take a mechanic along for an expert opinion.

What To Test In A Test Drive

Ready to take the car out for a spin? Make sure not to get too overwhelmed. To get the most out of the test drive, it is important to know what to test during a test drive. 

While a car might seem to tick all the boxes you want, its true worth can only be judged when you are behind the wheel. When taking a test drive, don’t just take the straight route. Replicate your everyday driving conditions and scenarios. If your route is full of bumps, make sure to drive your test car over bumps to know how the suspension performs.

Test drive in the city

Test the car both on congested as well as broad roads for a full experience. Find an empty road and check the braking and power output. If you are an adventure lover, find a nearby steep to check the pickup performance. 

Once you have checked the performance, test out all the features and hop on to the back seat to check the leg, thigh and head space at the rear. Make sure to also check out the boot space along with inspecting all electrically operated equipment. When taking a test drive or inspecting a prospective car, make sure to take your time. Don’t shy away from taking pictures for future reference.

Finance or Lease

Now that you have successfully chosen the right car for yourself it is time to figure out the payment options. If you do not have ample cash lying around, the major decision is whether to finance or lease. While a lease might offer lower instalments and little money to be paid upfront, when the lease eventually ends, you will be left with no car in your garage. On the other hand, financing might come with high monthly instalments, but you will be able to own your car once the loan is repaid. Nonetheless, here are a few advantages of both models:

Advantages of Leasing 

  • Drive an expensive car by paying less
  • Drive a new car every couple of years
  • No need to trade in at the end of the lease period 
  • Lower monthly payments
  • Monthly payment includes all the costs

Advantages of Financing

  • Sell the car whenever you like
  • No lock-in period requirements, the car is all yours
  • No kilometre capping, drive as much as you want
  • Don’t shy away from modifications

If you still feel confused, make sure to research a bit more to arrive at a decision you won’t regret later.

Pick Your Car

Inspection done, test drive taken and payment sorted, it is finally time to go and bring home the car you love. If you are still confused, the car probably isn’t for you. After all, it is better to take time than to regret it later. 

The market is full of cars that might offer better mileage, better features or better looks. At the end of the day, you decide what’s right for you and no one else. If you feel that you’ve chosen a car that ticks all the boxes, don’t shy away from bringing it home. Complete all the formalities and paperwork and bring home the car you love.

Before taking the delivery, make sure to indulge in a last and final pre-delivery inspection. Here are a few things to check before accepting delivery:

  • Check the entire bodyline to make sure there is no transit damage.
  • Click pictures and compare them with the ones you took earlier.
  • Thoroughly check the interiors to see if nothing has been changed/replaced.
  • Remove the floor mats and check if there is any moisture
  • Check for scratches/cracks in the mirrors.
  • Open the bonnet and inspect all the fluid levels
  • Make sure there is no leakage.
  • Check tyre health, odometer reading, and electric components.

If you think everything is in line, take the keys, and don’t forget to buy a box of sweets.

The Bottom Line

Getting home a new car is a process that requires a lot of effort. One wrong step and you will spend months regretting the decision. But with the right knowledge, you can bring home the car you love without any hassles. This is why knowing how to find the car that is right for you is an important thing. So make sure you detail your requirements and set the right budget before moving on to shortlisting cars that fit the bill. Once you have a few cars in mind, make sure to calculate the cost of ownership and choose the most preferred payment option before taking a test drive and finally bringing home the car.

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