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What to Look for When Comparing Cars

There are so many factors involved in choosing one car over another. Many buyers make their decision based solely on emotion - how they feel about the car.

This can be an expensive mistake - but luckily, since you're reading this article, you're probably concerned about costs that really matter.

Depreciation Cost

One of the most important things to look at when comparing vehicles is their depreciation cost. This is the biggest expense when it comes to buying a new car and one you should really pay attention to.

On average, foreign vehicles seem to depreciate less than the domestics. The difference in cost can be staggering in some cases. For example, the Honda Accord will typically retain about 55% of its value after 3 years. A similarly equipped and priced Chevrolet Impala will retain only about 40% of its value. Over this 3 year period, you will pay over $100 per month more in depreciation cost with the Impala. These are serious numbers when you look at it that way.


Most new cars come with at least a 36 month/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. These warranties will cover anything that goes wrong with the vehicle during this period, excluding normal wear and tear items such as the brake pads, battery, and tires.

Some manufacturers offer longer powertrain warranties such as Hyundai's 10 year/100,000 mile coverage. When comparing two vehicles, it makes sense to take a look at what kind of coverage they come with.

Cost of Maintenance

Another factor you should consider is cost of maintenance. Some cars are going to need more regular maintenance which can really add up.

To compare these costs, call up local dealers and ask to speak to someone in the service department. Let them know you're interested in a certain model and ask how much it costs to maintain the vehicle according to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.

Also find out the mileage intervals recommended for regular service within the first 3 years. Note that some manufacturers offer free maintenance for the first 2 or 3 years of ownership. These savings can really add up.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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