Assess Your Needs Versus Your Wants When You Shop For A Used Car

Shopping for a vehicle on the used car market is exciting, in part, because you may get an unexpected deal and you may be exposed to some vehicles that you hadn't previously considered. Because you may find yourself moving in different directions as you look at the various used cars for sale, it's a good idea to prepare for your shopping excursion by assessing your needs versus your wants. In the excitement of buying a used car, it can be easy to blend these two categories, but if you've thought about them in advance, you'll have a greater probability of finding a vehicle that you like now and in the future. Here are some sample needs and wants to think about.

Seating Capacity

The seating capacity of a vehicle often fits into the "needs" category more than the "wants" category. You'll need to think about how many immediate family members you have, as well as whether your family may be growing in the coming years. You'll also need to consider how often you use the vehicle for group outings with extended family, friends, and others. For example, if you coach a youth sports team and you often drive players to out-of-town tournaments, you'll need as many seats as possible.

Interior Room

The room inside a vehicle is different than the seating capacity. Think about your height and weight, and you'll be able to evaluate which size of vehicle you need. For example, if you're more than six feet tall, a subcompact car may simply be too cramped for your liking. In this scenario, adequate leg room in your chosen vehicle belongs in the "need" category.


The color of the vehicle fits firmly into the "wants" category. You may love the idea of a shiny red vehicle or prefer a specific look related to your favorite color, but the color of the vehicle shouldn't necessarily make or break the sale. It's a good idea to list a few colors that you might want, but to also realize that you should broaden your search to include vehicles that may be of a different color.


You may have your heart set on a certain brand of vehicle, but it's useful to remember that your preferred brand is more of a want than a need. If you have a couple brands that you've enjoyed in the past, it doesn't hurt to begin your search by focusing on these brands, but you should also be open to the idea of exploring other brands that meet the other needs you've identified.