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Buying a Car: Tips for Drivers in a Crowded City

Buying a car in a crowded city isn’t the same as buying one somewhere else. As a city dweller, you’ll have different constraints than a shopper in a rural or suburban area and different hassles to worry about. To help you understand a few of the things you should be thinking about before you buy a car in an urban area, we’re listing a few car-buying tips for drivers in a crowded city.

Think About What You Really Need

Our top tip for drivers interested in buying a vehicle in a crowded city is to think about what you really need. In rural or suburban areas, drivers often purchase large vehicles that can handle just about any duty, like hauling around the whole extended family — even if it only happens once a year. However, in cities where space is a premium, you should think about what you actually need a car to do before you buy one.

There’s no sense in buying a 3-row SUV, for instance, unless you actually use all three rows. The same goes for a pickup and its hauling capabilities or a large sedan and its big back seat. Unless you really need a big vehicle, we strongly suggest trying to downsize as much as possible.

Is Damage Likely?

Large cities can often wreak havoc on cars. More specifically, large cities often require tight parallel parking, include narrow lanes and suffer from poor road quality. The result can be scrapes, dings, dents or damage to your vehicle.

As a result, we have two tips for city-dwelling drivers interested in buying a car. Number one, if damage is a likely outcome of your car-ownership experience, we strongly suggest avoiding a pricey new model or a high-end luxury vehicle that you’ll want to keep in perfect shape. Instead, buy a car that can take a few nicks and scrapes without really upsetting you.

Number two: You might want to avoid leasing a car. Given that leases require a thorough damage inspection before a vehicle can be returned, a leased car susceptible to city life may result in a pricey repair bill when your lease is up.

Measure Your Parking

Our last tip: Measure your parking spot. Not only should you measure its width and length, but you should also measure the height, especially if you park in a garage. The last thing you’ll want to do is buy a big SUV or truck, only to bring it home and discover that it doesn’t fit in your garage. Also, don’t think your vehicle is safe just because it fits in your spot. You’ll want a buffer of a few inches on either side in order to be able to open your doors.

Don’t have a parking spot? Consider taking a tape measure to the average street parking space in your city. You might be surprised to find out how small the average street spot is until you arrive home one day in a large new vehicle and discover it won’t fit in many of your city’s tight street spots.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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