Buying a new car is a big buying decision, and you want to be sure that you make the right choice.

First of all, you should make a list of what you need your vehicle to do / be / have. For example, when I bought my vehicle, my list included:

— 4 wheel drive
— towing capacity for a bass boat
— a nice stereo
— etc

Making that list will help keep you on track to choose a vehicle that meets your needs. Once you have your list made, you can pretty quickly narrow the options down to several vehicles that have the features you need, and that you like.

Now is where the work begins – finding out which vehicle is most likely to give you the most reliable, safe use. Here are several important factors that you should check and consider.

Safety Ratings
Your dealer can probably provide you with safety data on the new cars you are looking at. Remember that there are multiple safety tests – front collision, side collision, rollover, etc – and you should take every test into consideration.

Reliability Ratings
If you go on MSN or other car websites, you can get reliability ratings on past year's models based on customer feedback. While there will be variation between years, it should give you some idea of a model's overall reliability.

User Feedback
If you know people who own the model you are considering buying, ask them for advice. They may not only be able to tell you if they are happy with the car, but give you information on which features are hot and which are not.

The bottom line is: the more data you can gather from different sources, the more likely you are to make the best buying decision. Your dealer is an excellent source of information, but it's important to gather data from other, un-biased sources, as well.

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