Buying a car can be fun and exciting or overwhelming and difficult. The difference is often made by how good you are at doing your research. If this isn't your first rodeo, you might know a thing or two about how bumpy the journey can be. The fact is, whether you're planning to buy a brand-new car or a pre-owned one, this is no small investment. When you realize how much of your hard-earned money you have to spend to buy a new set of wheels, the pressure inevitably starts to build up.

You can ask someone who's more versed in this department to help you out, but in the end, you are the one who has to make the final decision, and you're the only one who knows which car best suits your needs. Besides, a car buying experience doesn't have to be a dreadful task, even if you're navigating the whole process alone. In fact, it can be much easier than you think if you have the willingness and the patience to do your research the right way.

What you should focus on when researching vehicles 

Before we move on to research methods, we must first cover the main aspects to consider when starting your vehicle research. Let's adopt a methodical approach and analyze one aspect at a time.

Makes and models

You should always start with getting educated on the different makes and models on the market. It's great if you already know what type of vehicle you want, but it really doesn't hurt if you take the time to analyze your options. With manufacturers releasing so many models each year, it's impossible to keep track of the best offers on the market, and you might find hidden gems that you had no idea about.

Owning costs

The whole point of doing your research is finding a great car that's within your budget. So, you must have a clear understanding of your financial situation and know exactly how much money you can spend on a new car. When planning your budget, you should also consider the running costs of the vehicle, not just the purchase price. Car insurance, fuel and maintenance costs all add up and you should make sure the vehicle you choose provides the best value for money.


Never choose a car just because it looks good. Functionality and comfort should always come first. Obviously, there's an emotional element that goes into buying a car and aesthetics do matter, but think about it as a bonus, not a requirement. Think about your needs and how you're going to use the car on a daily basis. Do you have a big family or do you have to drive on rough terrain often?  Analyzing these aspects will help you decide what type of car will suit you.


Regardless of your circumstances, safety should never be neglected. If it's not a safe car, it's definitely not the right car. There are several online resources where you can check crash test ratings or safety features and determine a vehicle's safety level.

Research methods 

Now that you know what you should focus on, it's time to get to work. You can do most of the research online, but you have to do it the smart way. Here's how to go about things.

Manufacturer websites 

If you've already decided on a certain car brand, there's no better place to get information about vehicle features and characteristics than the manufacturer's website, so that should be your first stop. You can look at different models and trims, analyze and compare the options so you can get a better idea of what the brand has to offer. Putting different models side by side will help you get a clear image of the advantages and disadvantages of each listed vehicle, and it will make it easier for you to narrow down your options.

Independent websites

A manufacturer's website will go above and beyond to convince you their models are the best, so if you want to get a more objective perspective, you should hop on the independent websites to continue your research. For example, if you want to read a 2020 KIA Soul review, it's best to check buyers' opinions on independent sites, to make sure you get both the pros and the cons. Read reviews from as many sources as you can find, just in case you come across biased reviewers or people who have been paid to comment positively on a car.


Dealerships can also be useful information resources, but it's a step better left for the final stages of your research, when you've already gathered pretty much all the information you need to make a decision. When you get to the dealership, you've got to adopt the right attitude. Have your questions ready and be firm about what you want. You haven't gone through all the research just to be swiped off your feet by a price tag and some nice words. Be prepared to negotiate and when you get to this point, use all the knowledge that you've gained to your advantage.

Test drive 

Everything might look good on paper or on the internet, but what truly matters it's how a car performs on the road. Driving it is the only way to find out if it's the right match for you or not. A test drive is the ultimate trial a car has to pass and the one that weighs the most, so it's a step you should never skip. Call the dealership and book the cars that have made the cut for a test drive. It's important to drive all the cars that you're interested in, even if they are quite similar because you might feel completely different when you're behind the wheel. If you have the possibility to book an extended test drive and keep the car for one or two days, that's even better as you can really familiarize yourself with the vehicles and make a decision you'll not regret.