On average, people own their vehicles for nearly seven years

By George Morse

AAA World Article

The average age of vehicles in the U.S. is 11.6 years and on average, people own their vehicles for nearly seven years, according to IHS Markit. The typical driver will buy about nine vehicles between his or her 16th and 76th birthdays.

Here are some of the most important considerations to weigh when asking yourself “What type of car should I buy?”

What Car Should I buy

Your budget
Nothing has more of an impact on your vehicle choice than what you can afford. You’ll want to weigh the overall cost and, if you finance your purchase, what your monthly payments will be. Don’t ignore other expenses like fuel, maintenance, and insurance.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study is a handy resource for calculating your overall potential expense.

What’s it for?
Once you know your budget, ask yourself “What type of car should I buy, and why?” Is it for simply getting back and forth to work, is it for leisure cruising or a mix of both? For example, if you’re buying something for fun, sharp handling might be more important than something for your 9-to-5 commute.

What kind of passenger and cargo capacity do you need?
A two-seat sports car for a married couple without children might be fine, but it won’t do the trick for a family of five who travels regularly for weekend hockey tournaments. Think carefully about everything that goes in and out of your car.

Do I need an all-weather vehicle?
If you’re planning to venture out onto snow-covered streets, you might consider an all-wheel drive sedan or SUV. Anyone considering an electric vehicle should also think about whether it’ll be out during winter, since extreme temperatures can impact the range of electric vehicles.

What features am I interested in?
From infotainment systems that pair with smartphones to automatic braking and lane-correction systems, vehicles come with a wealth of technology. While some may want all of the latest and greatest, others might want something simpler with a smaller learning curve. Remember that many features are optional.

Do I want a green vehicle?
There have never been more green vehicles on the market, and an entire story could be written offering tips for choosing the one that’s right for you. If you’re interested green vehicles, check out the AAA Green Car Guide, which reviews and ranks dozens of models.

How did the test drive go?
A test drive is incredibly important. All the research in the world cannot tell you what it feels like to get behind the wheel of a car.