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What do you look for when buying a car?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / September 20, 2005 5:02 AM PDT

What is the single most important thing you look for when buying a car?

Safety features (Why?)
Reliability (Why?)
Fuel economy (Why?)
Horsepower (Why?)
Styling (Why?)
Comfort (Why?)
Price (Why?)
Handling (Why?)
Environmental impact (Why?)
Other (What is it?)

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by reciter / September 20, 2005 8:40 AM PDT

I end up with really classy looking cars with more than adequate hp and a few luxury features.
My Chrysler New Yorker was the last of the big cars in 82, presently I drive a Chrysler Concorde LXI.
It seems to be like cats (or how you end up with a pet, it chooses you), when I shop for a car I am looking for room for our golf clubs and several suitcases so I need trunk room.
That limits choices right away.
Then, I love electric seats because I have a problem travelling for long trips without seat adjustment, my hips get stiff and I ache if I am in a car for 10 hours at a stretch.
So, looking for a big trunk and electric seats takes me into the luxury line usually, but price ends up being my final factor and I like to dicker a bit and always drive away happy.

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Automobile choices
by tlnh / September 25, 2005 4:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Fit

Automobiles must above all else be suited to the owners needs. My wife's Subaru is more practical than my F150. However, my physical therapist has declared her car bad for my back. 1st a car must fit the owner, then items such as costs, reliability & handling must be considered...

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Definitely reliability
by robbybeez / September 20, 2005 8:44 AM PDT

I can't afford to buy a new vehicle every 3 years; but even if I could, if I find a car or truck that I can really enjoy driving, I want to keep it for a long time. It doesn't matter how fuel efficient, powerful, safe, stylish, comfortable, etc. that a car or truck is, if it will leave you standing along side the road. I like one that is made well enough that there isn't a worry about breakdowns, frequent repairs, or not making it to work. I'm willing to do my part with preventive maintenance, and will do what I can to keep it looking good. The rest is up to the manufacturer. Rob B.

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Reliability is okay, but
by mattkenseth17 / September 20, 2005 11:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Definitely reliability

What good is reliability when you hit that slippery spot on the highway and skid out of control?

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by Bad Tom / September 20, 2005 1:06 PM PDT
In reply to: Definitely reliability

THAT is the MOST important thing to me..

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Reliability and safety very important
by Shutterbug / September 20, 2005 1:07 PM PDT
In reply to: Definitely reliability

Well, I'm not buying a car as yet. I still drive a (are you ready for this?) .... 1974 Plymouth Duster. I have had a lot of cars from VWs, Ghias, Thunderbird all brand new too, but when I bought this mid-size slant six on the recommendation of my father (he was one of the finest mechanics around) I struck pay dirt. I've kept it on top mechanically. I can't keep the exterior tip top due to cost, but for about 20 years of that time this car looked great. It still has a great paint job (original), and when clean and waxed it's a cutey. White top getting old. Could replace if I had help. Needs interior things. But this little "Lizzy" runs like a top. I make maybe one car payment every year or two which is great right now.

If I were to look for another car I'd really do my research into mechanical features (must last a LONG time), safety features, comfortable seating, great mileage (actually I prefer we get away from gas/oil personally). I love a good looking car and they can be had with all the features I need.

My dad used to say that a car was "to get you from point A to point B." I loved it. We always had nice cars, and he kept them in tip-top shape often restoring a "wreck" into original beauty. He really taught me the value of a dollar. I was nuts for cars as a kid. I still have that desire. If I could afford a Jaguar I might get one for the heck of it, but if it's not really safe and dependable, forget it. I've seen cars from the 1930s through now, and there have been some GREAT cars, but mainly cars stink in more ways than one. We should all vote with our "feet" and get the manufacturers to make electric cars now. Oil IS running out believe it or not. It is NOT eternal, and it's not going to "create itself" as we are using more than we should. We don't have dinosaurs (fossil fuel) dying and making oil anymore.

Probably my granddaughter who is seven will see great things happen in the auto industry. I hope so, and I know it will NOT be a gas guzzler as it will be rationed or too costly. I cannot afford today's gas prices, and I KNOW cars can be made to do a LOT of mpg and also be a hybrid so that they run on gas and/or electricity/battery power.

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Other - Functionality
by smcginnga / September 20, 2005 8:51 AM PDT

I look for the vehicle that meets all my variety of needs... that's why I drive a quad cab pickup 4X4 with a bed liner... I can carry a lot of folks and/or a lot of stuff, in comfort. Sure will be glad when they have a hybrid option for a quad cab.

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by johngault02 / September 20, 2005 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Other - Functionality

Where is the utility catagory in this poll?? The vehicle must be useful or have utility!

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by jimroberts / September 20, 2005 7:30 PM PDT
In reply to: Other - Functionality

Transport is number one task and it has to fit the multifunctionality required.
1. Get me to work with economy
2. Transport maximum number of people locally for the church and the students.
3. Help those without transport to haul furniture, etc.

For me that means an Estate car with trailer.

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by terriobarski / September 21, 2005 3:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Other - Functionality

I have an exployer sport trac. I can take customer out to dinner and haul trash to the dump the next day.
4 doors make all the difference.

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Reliability before anything else!
by cahall5050 / September 20, 2005 9:18 AM PDT

I have an '86 Park Avenue that I purchased used in 1991. It now has 108000 miles on it and has never had a single problem. I service it regularly and keep it garaged. However - it is not my "runabout" vehicle. I only drive this car when I need to make a road trip. We are in a rural area, so it is 100 to 250 miles to get anywhere! Besides, it gets 33 MPG - why would I want to get rid of it at todays gas prices?

Just going to work and shopping I use a MINIVAN!

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1998 Bonneville 30 mpg & Reliable!
by LindaSegal / September 20, 2005 9:27 AM PDT

I have had this car since 1999 and never had it break down. It's got a 3.8L V6 with 112,000 miles on it and I would drive it from California to New York today, if I needed to. And, for whetever it's worth, I got 30 mpg driving 100+ mph (with the air conditioning running) from Bakersfield to Phoenix at night. Amazing! When this one wears out, I'm getting another one! It's comfortable, reliable, large enough to be safe with airbags, and has great gautes. I drive it everyday, change the oil and filter every 2,000-3,000 miles, and I love it!

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by Monni7 / September 20, 2005 9:19 AM PDT

I have 8 children, so our main concern is having a seat for everyody. Our choices are quite narrow. We drive a Dodge 15 passenger van, but would consider any other 15 passenger vans on the market.

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Other - family size
by CrazyBare / September 20, 2005 2:06 PM PDT
In reply to: other

I also look for enough seats. I have 3 children and wanted to avoid all the fighting over who gets a window seat. I started with a 5 passenger Dodge Caravan, then upgraded to the 7 passenger Plymouth Grand LE, and now have a Pontiac Montana.

Although my kids are now grown, I have grandchildren to think of, and my own mother who now uses a walker to get around. Between Strollers, car seats and a walker, I can only look at larger vans to purchase.

Gas economy is another huge concern, and the Pontiac is giving me 600km per 78 liters of gas. I can't do the math LOL

My dream vehicle (at this point in time) is the Ford Escape. I haven't done any research on the fuel economy yet, as I have to wait till I won't be hauling strollers and a walker.

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by Dick Lucas / September 26, 2005 3:05 PM PDT
In reply to: other

I would've picked a category of "Best combo of handling/performance/safety vs.efficiencies and economics" if offered. Why not show economy and safety against handling and safety? Few of us have only one primary thought; everything's a package. I'd like to have the best handling/performing, fun car, that's as safe and efficient as I can afford

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Buying a car? I look for...
by davfried / September 20, 2005 9:28 AM PDT


The ability to fix it without $1000 test **** and the space to reach into areas without disassembling several other things first. I guess I'm forever destined to buying nothing later than '70s vehicles!

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The rest of the story
by big guy / September 20, 2005 9:41 AM PDT

a car is the sum of all these things but more than that it's a statement about who you are. it's like the shoes you buy or the coat you wear. like it or not it's how people perceive you when you get out. most people who buy a car for other reasons like economy go back to driving what they really prefer when finances allow. it's human nature.

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Safety Features
by radar474 / September 20, 2005 9:51 AM PDT

Safety should be the most important thing when buying a new or even a used vehicle. A car/truck or whatever can be replaced...Loved one can't!

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Safety Features a must!
by Ausirose / September 20, 2005 12:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Safety Features

With all the ratbags on the roads nowadays and tv ads pushing horsepower and speed of the vehicles IE the "Zoom Zoom" ads that my 7year old sings LOL
Safety is a must in my book!
What is the point of how fast a vehicle can go when the maximum speed limit is 110klm on a freeway anyway?
Too many people have been killed by speeding or kids drag racing on the main streets in their cars.

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Safety First
by Tom B. / September 20, 2005 1:22 PM PDT
In reply to: Safety Features

I bought a Ford F-150 because of its survivability in a head on crash and its size. Admittedly there were secondary considerations.

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Get it all!
by roc312 / September 20, 2005 9:55 AM PDT

There is no reason you can't get all of the above. Example: I have a 2004 Subaru WRX station wagon. A few modifications have bumped the horsepower to 400, and reduced the weight to 2950 lbs. Because of the low weight, the car still gets 28 mpg in everyday driving. I have horsepower, safety (Subaru is at the top), reliability, exceptional handling, reasonable fuel economy, practicality, all wheel drive, reasonable pricing, ULEV, and comfort.

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save the environment or die
by urr_quasdim / September 20, 2005 10:15 AM PDT

We already see the beginning of the effect of green house gases on the environment. Ever fiercer hurricanes, due to increased sea water temperature, is just one example. We, in the U.S., contribute more to pollution (mainly from car exhausts) than any other nation (albeit the Chinesse are fast catching up). If we don't abandon NOW the current gas guzzlers and switch to environmentally friendly (and gas miser) cars - it will be too late to reverse the acceleration of global warming. We and our offsprings will suffer greatly from our skewed priorities. Sure, a reliable car is very important, but saving our environment is THE NUMBER ONE TASK at the present. Besides, cars like the Prius are environmentally friendly, gas misers AND reliable. If we all switched to hybrid cars we would cut our petrol needs by more than 50%! Not only will we contribute greatly to saving the environment but our entire foreign policies will change dramatically - just imagine not being dependent on Middle-Eastern oil!

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Not agreed completely
by thecoolnessrune / September 20, 2005 11:01 AM PDT

Personally, I dont believe in the greenhouse effect. There are several source that will show the average curve of temperatures over the centuries. We are just currently on an upswing. Secondly, look at a chart. Us as the WORLD of people make up less emissions of CO2 per year then a single volcanic eruption (Many small ones happen per DAY!) Thirdly, while I agree we should switch to more efficient vehicles, getting a Prius is out of the question for me. Those things are way too small for me. Not comfortable whatsoever.

I am a man who:
a tall person
wants comfort
wants less emissions

I am a man who does not:
believe in the greenhouse effect
believe getting a smaller car is the answers to our problems.

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How true, How true.
by haywoodwhy / September 20, 2005 2:27 PM PDT

What you say is the truth. The facts are in everyone's face right now, and let us only hope that they take what you are saying to heart when they purchase their next vehicle.Ours is not the only generation. There will be many more to come and they deserve the right to live on a planet that is not polluted to the max.

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Sorry, I dont have 20,000 bucks to buy a new car.
by Species8472 / September 21, 2005 11:07 AM PDT

Plus, I like my station wagon, It may only get 20 MPG (if im lucky) but I can haul a full size 4x8 sheet of plywood, with drywall. Or 5 bags of concrete, and just by putting the seats back up I can seat 11 people LEGALY.
Saying that humans are responcable for global warming, is like the gun is responcable for killing people.
That and we havent been on this Earth long enough to know if we are having any effect on the enviroment. Yes we are getting fiercer hurricanes, etc. but maybe thats normal after getting out of an ice age. and yes we are getting out an ice age.

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save the environment
by j2flyg / January 16, 2006 4:53 AM PST

Its nice to see people that care about the environment and who know what they are talking about. It's so important for people to read and acknowledge what car emmissions do to the environment. Make sure to join The Virtual March to Stop Global Warming. The Virtual March on the internet was launched to confront
this urgent threat we all face. You can help make history by joining the march at

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Multiple Choices
by GrandpaDickie / September 20, 2005 10:19 AM PDT

There is more then one crieteria to be considered when
buying a new car, wether it be a brand new vehicle or
a used one. Therefore more then one choice is not
enough. Maybe three choices would be more sensible.
I personally would consider, price, comfort (leg room )
and reliability, not necessaraly in that order.
Depends on each persons standards and objectivity
and logic.

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by bobcooke / September 20, 2005 11:00 AM PDT

Then who is buying all those big SUVs
with the big engines....they ain't selling
because they are reliable

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safety is reliability
by Marysue / September 20, 2005 11:01 AM PDT

Safety and reliability go hand in hadn when you live way out in the sticks. You can't just walk to the nearest gas station!

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I know!
by Alkaline 3 666 / September 20, 2005 11:06 AM PDT

I sell cars... alot of them i see it all people shopping for one reason or another but you can't shop one feature. You have to shop them all and then,and only then can you be happy with your purchase. If somone is looking for something that i can't offer them i will tell them where they can find it! Notable i think that the Koreans will own the automotive industry within 8 years for a multitude of reasons. However for right now Nissans are great cars. Better than hondas! But over all packages is why the Koreans will come out on top because of the whole deal. Price, saftey, fuel economy, looks, service, and warrenty. Never forget about warrenties.

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