5 Steps to Finding the Right Car

Buying a car can be nerve-wracking. Here’s how to make a more confident decision.

5 Steps to Finding the Right CarCapital One

The more choices you have to choose from, the less satisfied you are with your purchase.

As ironic and counterintuitive as that sounds, it’s a basic function of how we humans deal with complex decisions. That’s the assertion and advice of an acclaimed psychologist at the University of California-Berkely who literally wrote the book on simplifying decisions. We chatted with him a while back about his book, The Paradox of Choice. While he had lots of fascinating stuff to say (you can read the full interview, here), he also presented us with advice on how to filter out the proverbial static when making a big decision...like buying a car.

As it turns out, if you want to make a choice you can be confident about, the key is to keep it simple and focus on what you really want.

With that, here’s five steps to making a good car-buying decision:

1: Limit Your Wish List to 5 Things and Write Them Down

Put your most-desired features and specs (leather seats, good safety ratings, etc.) down on paper.

2: Prioritize Your Needs

Given your personal situation, evaluate the importance of each attribute. Cut the list to three and prioritize your list: Price can feel like a constraint, but it can also help narrow your choices.

3: Filter the Choices Based on Those Priorities

Many auto search websites allow you to filter vehicles by key features. Use your prioritized list to narrow down the targets when you search; stop when you find something that fits the bill.

4: Pick the Winning Option

Test drive a handful of finalists, evaluate how likely each is to meet your most important needs and wants, and then decide which one to buy.

5 (a.k.a. the key to long-term happiness): Don’t Look Back!

The novelty of your new car may wear off after a few months, but resist the urge to worry if something better is out there. It’s important to remember how good things actually are: you found a car that meets your top needs and you didn’t get distracted by less important things that won’t matter to you in the long run.

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Capital One
Banking should leave you with the same great feeling you get when you drive casually on a weekend afternoon. And that’s how I feel when writing helpful tips and reviews – passionate about cars and passionate about financing and everything in between when buying a new ride.