Thinking of buying a new vehicle this Spring? There are many things to consider when making this huge financial decision and many resources available to us as consumers. With the ease and convenience of the internet at our fingertips, we can research and do our “homework” before making a final decision.

What will you buy – car or truck? Full size or compact? Luxury vehicle with all of the “bells and whistles” or a simple, utilitarian working vehicle? Are you concerned about the ecological footprint — should you be looking at a hybrid vehicle? Many of us will start by reading Consumer Reports, to get an idea of what others are buying and how the vehicles are rated.

Will you purchase a new or used vehicle? Will you finance your purchase, or pay cash? People who are able to pay cash or put a healthy down payment on a vehicle have some negotiating leverage when visiting a dealership.

A down payment can help to keep payments lower. If you can bank your expected monthly payment amount for a year or so, and get in the habit of setting that money aside – you will have a down payment at hand. Also if you’ve repaid a vehicle loan, continue making the monthly payments (to yourself). This is another strategy to ensure a nice down payment is available for your future vehicle purchase.

Have you ever heard someone say that the value of a vehicle depreciates as soon as it leaves the lot? It’s true — as soon as you drive your new car or tuck for the first time, the value may depreciate by as much as 11%. There are many depreciation calculators available online — definitely take a moment to review one for the vehicle you intend to own.

How long will you keep your vehicle, and how many miles do you anticipate putting on the car? This will affect the depreciation of your vehicle, if you decide to trade or sell it in the future. It also raises another question — whether to buy the vehicle outright, or simply lease it with the option to purchase at the end of your lease.

People who expect low mileage and who would like a (potentially) lower monthly payment, plus the option to have a newer vehicle every couple of years may find leasing very attractive. Be very careful to read the contract thoroughly, and to make sure you understand the terms. Mistakes and misunderstandings, and going over the limit on mileage can be costly!

Whether buying or leasing, keep in mind that in addition to the monthly payments, you will be paying for insurance, maintenance and fuel. These additional costs may dictate a lower cost vehicle.

It is also important to be aware of what other dealerships may be charging for the same vehicle, and any special deals or promotions that are available. If you belong to a credit union, or are employed by a company in the car manufacturing industry, you may receive some concessions as to price, etc. Be sure to check out any and all discounts which may apply!

The best advice when making any large purchase is to take your time and to shop around. Make sure that you are receiving the best deal for your money. To save time, many people will use a service to find their perfect vehicle; a service may be able to find a great deal out of your area or even the state that is an exact match for what you are looking for.

Happy Vehicle Shopping!

Securities and investment advice offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC Marathon Financial Advisors, Inc. and Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. are separate entities.