Donald Harris

Article Summary:

To determine if an SUV is right for you and which SUV to buy.

Questions to Ask before Buying an SUV

So you want a Sport Utility Vehicle? Take a few minutes to ask yourself a few questions:

1. How many people do you usually drive/ride with? If the answer is only one or two, then you have a wide selection of vehicles to choose from. If the answer is 3 or more, then there are design limits on some SUV's that you will need to consider. While most have seats for 3-4 people, the back seats of many can be cramped and uncomfortable, especially on long rides.

2. How will you use your SUV? Will it be for playing off-road on weekends only or will you use it as primary transportation for you or your spouse? If it's a "primary transportation" vehicle, you will want to include things like air conditioning and comfortable seating as well as room to haul groceries and other shopping items. If you live in a mountainous area, you may want to opt for the power of V-8 package instead off the economy of a V-6 engine. On the other hand if you're driving is mostly on flat terrain and highway, the V-6 may be a better choice.

3. How much can you afford for the vehicle itself? Expense is always a factor. This may determine whether you purchase new or used. But also look at the way you want to use the vehicle. If you want to do a lot of "off-road" driving, why not opt for a used vehicle which will look none the worse for the beating it will take! Brush marks and minor dings will occur if you drive off road - something you might not want to happen to your new "baby!"

4. How much can you afford for operating expenses. The operating cost of a SUV will vary greatly depending on its size and options. If you plan on driving it as a primary vehicle, you may opt for a more economical drive line package (V-6 versus V-8) and perhaps a manual transmission versus an automatic.

5. Have you asked questions? People like to talk about their vehicles. If you have friends that own and use an SUV in the same way you plan to use yours, ask them what they like and dislike about theirs. It will save you a lot of frustration later.

6. Are you looking for a used SUV? Here are some things to look for beyond the normal check list for used vehicle purchase:

  • Look for a skid plate or evidence of its removal. If the skid plate is dinged and bent, it is an indication the vehicle has had some rough treatment over a lot of rough terrain.
  • Look for removal of add-on trailer hitches or for an add-on receiver hitch. If you see evidence of hitches, contact the previous owner and ask what kind of trailer they pulled and how often.
  • Examine the frame of the vehicle and look for bends or kinks in places where tow hooks could be attached or chains hooked. Bends or tears in these areas indicate hard use in rough terrain. If the vehicle has aftermarket tow hooks, check to see if the hooks are straight (indicating little use) or are they bent.

By asking questions before you buy, you can determine what SUV is right for you!

Donald Harris is a former mechanic and used car dealer. He continues to tinker under that ol' shade tree. His website has car repair tips and links to parts, manuals and classic cars, trucks and tractors. cars trucks and tractors.com.

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