Learn how to thoroughly compare cars to make the best choice

Before making the investment of purchasing a car, whether new or used, it is a good practice to make a few comparisons. This helps you to learn more about the vehicles you are interested in buying, and provides you with the information to make the best choice. While the appearance of the car is what initially sparks an interest in a particular make and model, there is far more to be considered. This guide is prepared to provide important information that will help you to know how to compare cars to get the best deal and the right vehicle.

Make a checklistcar on road over sunny day

Settling on one particular car with the number of options out there will be easier if you have a good idea of what it is that you are looking for. Making a checklist is a good way of identifying which things are the most important. Whether your list is mental or written on paper, this exercise will help you to get a good handle on what you will be looking for more specifically when comparing cars. There should be three major categories which include; must haves, preferred options and less important but worth mentioning.

Consider what the car will be used for

Will the car be used as a commuter vehicle for work or school? How many passengers, if any, will you be transporting? How many miles do you anticipate driving per month? These questions are designed to help you in considering the size of the car needed, seating capacity and fuel ratings and associated expenses. Make a note on your list for these items under must haves.

Establish your budget

By determining the amount that you are willing or able to spend on a car, you will have a sense of what is within your set budget. Make this budget realistic within your means. If you plan on financing a car, what can you afford in monthly payments. If you’re paying cash, how much total can you spend? Another vital question is how much will it cost to insure the vehicle? Some makes and models, particularly in the sports genre are more expensive and this will need to be figured into the budget. This may eliminate a few of the options and help you to narrow down the choices of cars you will be comparing. These items are also on the must have list under price and insurance estimates.

Make a list of your personal preferences

If the color is important to you then put it on the list under preferred options. What style of seats do you prefer, bucket or bench style? Two door or four door? Leather, fabric, power or manual doors and windows? Sport or economy? You may also include the makes, models and years of cars you are the most interested in. Another addition to this list is available options. This is most important if you are purchasing a new car as they come with a variety of different options for luxury and performance.

Different ways to compare cars

Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for in a car, it’s time to turn to the different methods that are helpful in making your comparisons. Walking into the dealership, responding to advertisements from private parties and reading reviews in the newspaper are all ways that you can make comparisons. While there is nothing wrong with doing these things, there are faster and easier ways to narrow down your choices. Online options hold a wealth of information available at your fingertips.

Dealership websites

Most dealerships operate up to date websites that can provide you will information that will answer many of your questions before you set foot in the showroom. Automated comparison tools allow you to type in your preferences and the program will bring the cars that you have selected up side by side. Most allow for up to 4 vehicles at a time. This allows you to compare features, prices, estimated gas mileage, warranties and other statistics about each car. This type of investigation can also alert you to any special incentive programs that the dealership may be offering to get your business.

Kelly Blue Book online

The Kelly Blue Book website can help you to find the fair value of the vehicles in your comparison list in accordance with make, model, year and the current condition they are in. This is a valuable tool to help ensure that you are not being overcharged for a particular car.

Online insurance quotes

There are several sites on the internet that provide a tool that is designed to use all of the available information that you have on a particular vehicle along with your own personal information . The calculation tools provide a fast estimate of what you can expect to pay in annual or monthly auto insurance premiums. If you prefer, you can also contact your current insurance agent for a personal estimate if you plan to stay with the company you are with. This is only necessary if your current insurance company does not have a website quote calculator.

The next step

Once you have made the comparisons of the cars you are the most interested in, you have gained all of the knowledge that you need to further narrow your choices to a few different vehicles that meet the criteria you have set. The final step is to locate the vendor or private party that has the car you desire for sale. Test driving the remaining cars on your list is the final step before committing to purchase. As you complete this segment of your journey, you will get a feel for the car that suits your personal preferences the most closely.


Comparing cars prior to purchase is a process, there is no doubt. There are ways to go about it that are less time consuming, and can help you to narrow your choices. Gaining as much information about the cars prior to test driving them will give you a more precise idea of what you are looking for, and the end result will be ending up with a car that will best meet your personal needs and preferences.