4 things to consider when buying a vehicle

(BPT) - The pandemic changed our travel habits considerably, and forced us to reconsider how we get around safely. For example, the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index found that three-quarters of Americans don’t feel comfortable taking public transportation because of the coronavirus pandemic, leading more people to get behind the wheel.

This increase in drivers is having an impact on our car buying decisions: Data showed that 44% of Americans have already considered a new vehicle purchase. Many are likely to be first-time car buyers, too, as over half of Gen Z and millennials are thinking about a new vehicle purchase.

In addition to the usual considerations when buying a vehicle — cost, performance, safety and reliability — the events of 2020 have raised new questions. After a year of significant change, here are four things to consider when buying a new vehicle.

Your vehicle is just as much about comfort as it is mobility

We’re spending more time in our cars, even when we’re not going places — waiting in parking lots for grocery orders, lining up at drive-thrus, or even taking a conference call when home gets a little too noisy! So a vehicle’s interior should be a nice place to spend your time.

The good news is that there are plenty of standard features and affordable options to make that possible. The Gauge Index found that Americans consider everything from Bluetooth connectivity (62%) and in-dash navigation (57%), to remote and keyless start tech (56%) as important factors when choosing their vehicles.

Self-healing tire technology was also rated as an important feature by 56% of Americans — a useful feature at any time, and crucial when one may not want to come into close contact with others for an emergency tire change!

Is it finally time to plug in?

With increased range, lower prices and expansions in charging infrastructure, electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly becoming a choice for drivers, with 62% of Americans likely to consider an EV.

Deciding if it’s time to go electric means considering a few important factors. The first is range: What do you anticipate to be your regular mileage between charges? The average range of today’s electric vehicles should be more than enough for daily commuting, errands and even the occasional afternoon road trip.

Then, make sure you have access to charging infrastructure at home and at your frequent destinations. And calculate the true financial benefit, taking into account rebates, credits and a newfound freedom from the petrol pump.

Take time to kick the tires.

When buying a new vehicle, check the tires it comes with to ensure they’re best suited for the weather conditions where you live. This is especially important when driving regularly in inclement weather where an all-weather tire like the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 can save you money down the road. Less than half (47%) of Americans can accurately identify the difference between all-weather and all-season tires, so here’s the cheat sheet: All-weather tires manage rain and snow while also delivering year-round performance; all-season tires prioritize comfort and fuel economy over ice and snow traction.

If you’re switching to electric, your tire choice could impact your ride comfort, mileage and road noise. These are already important for a regular vehicle but for an EV, where range is key and there’s just the quiet hum of the electric motor, you’ll want to pay extra attention to these features on your tires.

Looking ahead, post-pandemic.

With a new year on the horizon and the hope of restrictions easing in 2021, it’s important to ask if your vehicle needs now will be the same in six to 12 months’ time.

That’s because a vehicle purchase isn’t just for a few months; it’s a lengthy investment that brings insurance, registration and maintenance responsibilities. If a new vehicle purchase only serves your needs now, it may be worth managing with what you have for a few more months.

The past year has been one of change and upheaval. So if that means it’s time for a new set of wheels, these questions will help you not only choose the vehicle you need, but the driving experience you want, for the years ahead.