If you're thinking about buying a car this year, you're far from alone. Auto sales appear to be ramping up after a couple of fairly lackluster years.
But with the economy still on tenterhooks, consumers may want to pay careful attention to auto economics, said
The price of the car is an important consideration, of course. But ongoing costs -- for insurance, repairs and fuel -- can vary markedly from one vehicle to another. Ignore those differences and you could vastly underestimate the cost of ownership, Gillis said.
Consider, for example, two luxury sedans. The Dodge Charger has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of about
The Lexus gets roughly 35 miles to the gallon in both city and highway driving, while the Charger speeds through fuel about twice as fast, getting just 13 miles to the gallon in city driving and 19 on the highway. With gasoline prices near or past the
The differences don't stop there. The Charger is also one of the most expensive cars in the nation to insure, Gillis said. The final cost of insurance will depend on your driving record, miles driven and where you live. But even a good driver is likely to pay hundreds of dollars more to insure the Charger versus the Lexus.
Gillis' best car-buying advice: Pick three or four cars that you like and then start comparison shopping on a variety of criteria, including how the car scores on safety tests and on the comprehensiveness of the new-car warranty. (A few companies, such as
In addition to insurance costs and fuel economy, Gillis also looks at the cost of preventative maintenance while the car is still under warranty and the cost to repair big-ticket items when the warranty expires.
How long you keep an auto can be a consideration. If you don't keep cars for more than a few years, you might put less weight on the cost of repairing big-ticket items, particularly if you buy a model that offers an extensive warranty. If you drive a lot, you might put added weight on fuel economy.
"There's no one car that's best in every category," Gillis said. "We're forced to make trade-offs."
Gillis said he largely ignores resale values because supply and demand can make those figures swing widely. Besides, he looks upon cars as an expense, not an investment.
"You should never imagine that a car is going to retain its value and be worth a lot when you sell it," he said. "They're great for transportation, but they're lousy investments."
To prepare for a price negotiation with a dealer, Gillis advises doing research on the Internet. Sites such as
Don't get talked into extras you don't want. There are plenty of dealerships, plenty of cars. If you don't like how you're being treated, walk away.
If you know what you want to buy but hate negotiating, Gillis said you might consider the CarBargains service offered by the nonprofit Consumer's Checkbook. The service charges
Recent Auto Reviews
- Look Beyond Sticker Price for a Car's True Costs
- As Fuel Prices Rise, Small Cars Get Hotter
- Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: The Thrill is Back
- Top 5 Vehicles for Ski Week
- Ford's Mulally Wins Automotive Executive of the Year Award
- Giving the Red Light to Red-light Runners
- Electric Bikes Get Cranked Up
- Seniors Call on President Obama to Stem Gas Costs
- A Warning on Warning Lights
- Avoiding RV Disasters
- Young Drivers Play With Fire
- Obama Should Challenge Country to Make a Clean Energy Automobile
- Ford C-Max: A Mini Minivan
- Can Toyota Rise Again?
- 11 Coolest Scooters to Help You Spring Into 2011
- In-car Gadget Market Grows
- Audi A6: Sibling Rivalry
- Consumers More Aware of Alt-fuel Vehicles
- Ford Vertrek: An Escape From the Escape
- Get Your Armor on
- Controversy Over Ethanol
- Aging Drivers Cause Concern
- Our 5 Favorite Must-haves for Car Geeks
- Smart Phone Apps Help Stop Distracted Driving
- Time to Buy a New Car?
- Cadillac Eyes Smaller Cars
- 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Debuts
- Greatest Cars - Triumph TR-2
- Greatest Cars - Porsche 911
- Greatest Cars - Lamborghini Countach
- Are Green Vehicles Overhyped?
- Is Propane Fuel Getting a Fair Shake?
- Negotiating Car Price Still Saves Big Bucks
- Auto Leasers Remorse on the Rise
- Tailgating Goes Upscale
- Chevrolet Volt Becomes a Political Issue
- 4 Steps to Fix Your Car for Fall
- Kicking Off a 'Hydrogen Highway'
- Get Ready to Plug in Your Car
- Making Cars Safer
- Putting the Brakes on Ethanol
- Toyota Lost Its Way
- The Most Anticipated 2011 Cars
- Battle of the Greenest: Electrics vs. Hybrid Cars
- Don't Write Off Gasoline Engines Yet
- American Car Buyers Think Small
- Prepay Your Traffic Tickets?
- Buy or Lease: Is There a Simple Answer
- Will Hybrids See a Resurgence?
- Detroit Tops Auto Industry Customer Satisfaction
- Steps to Finding the Right Mechanic
- Men Seeking Cars Increase
- 2011 Model Year Holds Great Suspense
- Danger From GPS?
- Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Epoch-Changing Decision from the EPA
- Tracking Device Saves You Money on Car Insurance
- Electric Cars May Not Make the World Greener
- 10 Ways to Exercise Your Driving Muscles
- When Should You Buy Gas?
- American Carmakers Cry Foul
- Breathe Easier With 5 Cost-saving Clean Air Tips
- Chrysler Tries to Kick up Incentives in July
- Austin 7
- Benz Patent Motor Wagen
- Continental Mark II
- Cadillac V-16
- Chevrolet 409
- Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
- Stutz Bearcat
- 1959 Chevrolet El Camino
- Porsche 356
- Compromise Between New and Used Cars
- American Cars vs. Import Cars: The Short Course on Vehicle Quality
- Honda Element Outlives Its Birthright
- Defaulting on an Auto Lease Contract
- Smart Car Goes Electric
- The Top 5 American Cars of All Time
- 1964 - 1967 Sunbeam Tiger Roadster
- 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
- Nash Metropolitan
- Ferrari GTB/4 Berlinetta Boxer
- Austin-Healey Sprite
- Dodge Charger
- Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
- Lamborghini Miura
- Stanley Steamer
- Mercedes-Benz 500K/540K
- Ferrari 550 Maranello
- Fuel Economy Limits for Big Trucks
- Gittin Gets 2011 Mustang Drift
- Hot Rods Invade Pebble Beach
- Have a Safe Trip
- Electrifying Transportation
- The Price of Global Climate Change Regulations
- Sweet Deal for the Auto Dealers
- Prevent Overheating
- Crucial Safety Tips for Motorcycle Season
- Auto Financing Outlook Improves
- Voice Control for Driving Safety
- Keep Your Family Safe This Summer
- Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Car
- Hybrid Electric Cars Turn to Natural Gas
- To Lease a Car or Buy a Car
- Teens Don't See Drinking and Driving Dangers
- Tesla Takes Big Step
- Green Cars and Toyota
- Station Wagon Might Be Getting New Life
- Hydrogen for Your Car at Home
- 4 Ugly Cars Only Their Mothers Could Love
- Hybrid-like Fuel Economy From Non-hybrid
- Eco-friendly Driving Tricks Anyone Can Do
- What's Driving Us to Road Rage
- Toyota's Future in America
- Toyota: Profit Over Principles
- Toyota's Reputation Remains Strong
- Is the Inside of Your Car Making You Sick?
- American Luxury Hybrid Style
- Your Traffic Forecast Here
- Stop Curbstoning
- Seat Belt With Air Bag Brings More Safety
- Stuttering Start for Electric Cars
- Going the Extra Mile
- Learn to Share the Road
- Lease a Tesla Electric
- Honda Design Philosophy Stresses Function
- Financing Your New Car in a Difficult Economy
- 2011 Mustang Shelby GT350 Returns to Action
- Ford Gives Its 2011 Edge New Edge
- Kelper Motors Unveils 800-horsepower 'Motion' Supercar
- Will 2010 be a Better Year to Buy a Car
- Post-Cash for Clunkers Buyers Think Differently
Copyright © 2011 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.