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Identifying the Vehicle That Really Meets Your Driving Needs

 Kyle Busch and his 1986 Volkswagen Jetta—a used                                                                                                                                                                      vehicle that has been driven over 300,000 miles

 © 2002 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 needs.
 
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 needs?
 
 -  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 drive)?
 
 -  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 Driver, Motor Trend, and MotorWeek. 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 Reports 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
at 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
trends.
 
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
vehicle.

 

 Lowering the Finance Cost on Your Next Vehicle Purchase
  © 2002 by Kyle Busch, author of:
  "Drive the Best for the Price ...                                                              
 
 
Before making a purchase, especially a large one, most buyers ponder an equation that goes something like: What is it going to
cost me, and will that equal what I am going to get? 
 
Consider that equation when buying your next vehicle. Naturally, you want to get the most vehicle for the money you spend. Here
are several tips that will help you to lower your transportation cost.
 
First, and foremost, consider eliminating some of the steep depreciation cost incurred during the first few years of vehicle
ownership by purchasing a 2- to 3- year-old used vehicle.
 
The price can be further reduced by paying cash. However, if you need to finance your next vehicle purchase, consider doing the
following to keep its cost closer to the "as if you were paying cash" figure. 
 
   -  Take the time to carefully identify your current and your future transportation needs, and choose an
      appropriate vehicle. Transportation represents different things to different people.
 
      For some drivers, it represents status in society. Other drivers place greater emphasis on reliably just getting
      from point A to points B and C.
 
      The more closely that you match your driving needs with the vehicle you buy, the more driving pleasure 
      you will experience and the more likely you will want to hold on to the vehicle. When you reduce unnecessary
      vehicle trades, you save money.   
 
      If you can't fully identify your transportation needs or the vehicle that can best satisfy them, consult the
      April issue of Consumer Reports at a public library.
     
      The publication groups vehicles into categories, provides frequency-of-repair information for many 
      vehicles, and gives vehicle price information.
 
      It is a good idea to identify 2 or 3 vehicles in a particular category that meet your transportation
      needs. This enables some latitude when shopping or the vehicle.                                                                                          
 
   -  Identify how much you can afford to spend per month on transportation. A rule of thumb suggests that the 
      cost to rent an apartment per month should not be greater than 25 percent of your monthly net pay.
 
      The cost of an auto loan should not exceed 10 to 12 percent of your monthly net pay.
 
      In some instances, leasing a vehicle could be a better option than taking out a loan.
 
   -  The vehicle down payment should be the largest possible, and the amount of money borrowed the
      lowest possible. In addition, borrowing money for the shortest period of time (i.e., a 24-month loan 
      rather than a 48-month loan) will reduce the overall cost of the loan.
 
   -  Identify the various loan sources such as banks, savings and loans, credit unions, 
      and national lenders. For example, go online to ask jeeves.com and specify "automobile
      financing sources." 
 
      In regard to national financing vs. local financing, it can be useful to determine what the cost of a
      loan would be from the national sources, but accept a loan from a local source if the loan
      cost is comparable or nearly comparable between the two.
 
      Compare the APR (annual percentage rate) that each of the sources will charge for the loan.
 
      The cost of a loan is negotiable. Therefore, be certain to inform each source what the others
      have to offer.
 
      In addition to the loan's APR, remember to also compare the other costs associated with a loan,
      such as loan insurance and loan processing costs.
 
   -  Be certain to read and understand any fine print contained in the loan contract. Insist that the loan
      contract gives you the option of making payments early and that the payments will be applied on the 
      loan principal with no penalty or extra cost if you payoff the loan early.
 
   -  Do not settle for a vehicle that does not entirely meet your transportation needs because of low dealer
      or manufacturer incentive financing.Sometimes dealers or manufactures offer extremely low APR financing on
      vehicles that the dealer is having a hard time selling.
 
      That's why it helps to have initially identified the correct vehicle before encountering the sales pitches and other
      influences of buying a vehicle.

 

Buying a Used Vehicle:  
Kyle Busch has over 300,000 miles on his 1986
Volkswagen Jetta - a used vehicle that he bought in
1991 for $2,600. 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. 1 800 839-8640 or
www.drivethebestbook.com. The web site accepts
all transportation questions.