Your car is one of the most expensive purchases that you are ever likely to make, so it is not a decision to be taken lightly, particularly in the current economic climate. As with so many things in life, there seems to be more choice than ever these days, and buying a car can be an emotive topic.

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There are a huge range of factors that contribute to making the right decision. Here are some of the most important ones that you need to evaluate when you go car hunting.

Budget

It might sound boring, but in all honesty, how can you be serious about choosing a car unless you have a budget in mind? Remember the hidden costs, such as insurance, road tax, servicing and, of course, fuel prices, when juggling the figures. That way, you can work out an overall motoring budget for the month, and from that, calculate the realistic asking price that you can afford.

Practicality

It is all well and good to say that you can finally afford the 1960s convertible that you've always dreamed of, but if you will be doing regular motorway commutes in the rush hour, then it is really not a practical option. If, on the other hand, you commute by train and only use the car for visiting friends at the weekend, then why not go for it? 

Do you typically carry passengers, or is it usually only you in the car? Even your parking facilities can be a deciding factor regarding practicality – that classic convertible would definitely need to be locked up in a garage at night! 

Fuel

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Not so long ago, this was a question of petrol or diesel. These days, it is not quite that simple, as hybrids, electric power and even hydrogen-fuelled cars are available.

There is more to it than simply deciding what fuel is cheapest. There are also questions of performance and availability to consider, and understanding the finances is not as easy as it first looks. For example, diesel cars might be more fuel efficient, but the price per litre is typically a little higher, and the cars themselves can cost more.

Safety 

Everyone knows that modern-day cars are safer than ever, although there is an interesting contention that this does little to reduce accidents. Some argue that the way to do that would be to fit a metal spike to the steering wheel of every car, and the argument is a compelling one. 

Nevertheless, independent safety ratings are published every year for new cars and can be a deciding factor.

What do you really want?

Practicalities are great, but when it comes down to it, you know what you want. As mentioned earlier, car buying is an emotive topic, and you are spending a lot of money, so once your head is in gear, you can listen to your heart a little too. 

The classic convertible might have been ruled out as impractical, but if you've always fancied the idea of a BMW just because it is a BMW, then why not find one that ticks all the boxes and go ahead? After all, if it can get you from A to B and at the same time put a smile on your face, then that can only be a good thing.