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Is Reliability, Price or Features Most Important When Buying a Car?

What do you look for when buying a car? The reason I ask is that we are on the verge of doing just that. Our two-year lease experiment with an electric car is coming to an end. We will not be renewing the lease and are looking at buying a car sometime in the next month.

buying a carWe have been tossing several models back and forth and have made a trip to our local Carmax to check them out. All we know at this point is that we won’t be buying a brand new car, won’t be buying a black car (have one already) and won’t be buying another Suburban (that’s the one we have already).

But we are open to most anything else, provided it fits our family needs. And that is where the big question lies when it comes to buying a car? What is our biggest need?

Do we need to worry about price? Do we need to focus on the new car features? What about reliability? Can we handle a car that might need a few repairs along the way?

Best case scenario is that we find a vehicle where we are satisfied in all those categories. To me though, one of these stands out above the rest. It’s the first thing I’ll look at as we work through buying a car.

Reliability Above All When Buying a Car

On our Carmax trip, my wife and I were walking through the lot opening doors and sitting in some of the vehicles. We came to one vehicle that looked nice so thought we’d give it a look.  When I went to open the door to get in the car, I couldn’t believe what happened.

The door itself felt cheap when I opened it. Compared to the other car doors it was lightweight, flimsy and thin. I could almost picture it flying off the hinges as I went down the road. Of course that’s a bit of an exaggeration…I’m sure it passed all its safety tests.

But the feel of the door caused me to immediately think, “Boy, this is a cheap car”…cheap as in cheaply built and put together. I think I’ll pass. We didn’t even get in it.

This just reinforced in my mind that reliability is the #1 thing I look for when buying a car (or any other product really). Is it going to work like the company says it will? Will the product be dependable enough and produce as few headaches as possible?

It’s the same type of reasoning as to why I switched to Macs from PCs years ago. I want something that works, not something that routinely breaks down and compromises my time trying to fix it. I don’t need something that makes me fight the blue screen of death every other day.

I’ll admit that the features of a car are a real close second to reliability. What the car offers in terms of interior design, engine performance, and passenger/cargo space are all important factors. If I can get a reliable car with quality features that also throws in a few bells and whistles along the way, I’ll feel great about the purchase.

I don’t concern myself as much with price as others might. Of course I’m conscious about it. I won’t overpay and won’t take out a loan to buy a car.

But at the same time I won’t skimp just to save money. I’ll pay up a little bit to get the car I want. To me it’s worth it in the end to pay a little more to get the right car.

So what do you look for most when buying a car? Is it all about reliability? Do you care more for the features? Or is price your big concern?

I’m not sure there is a right answer here. To each his or her own. But you do need to consider what’s important to you when buying a car. That will help you find the right one and not be swayed into a mistake at the car dealership.

Questions for Discussion: What is the biggest factor you consider when buying a car? Ever make a car buying mistake because you didn’t know what you were doing?

Image courtesy of Automotive Rhythms at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    Reliability. If a cheaper car can be as reliable as the expensive one, I’d definitely go for the cheaper car. For those people planning to buy a car, research on the most reliable car and base your decision on your needs and preference.

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