(BPT) - It's that time again - time to buy a new car. Maybe you're excited because you've been dreaming of getting new wheels for a long time now. Or maybe you're nervous; buying a car is a big financial commitment and you want to make sure you do your homework. If you fall into this second group, don't worry; these five simple questions can help you find a vehicle that fits your lifestyle.
* Is it a lemon? When you purchase your vehicle, the last thing you want to do is shop for another car in a couple of years. Picking a reliable vehicle is key. So how do you do it? Make a list of the vehicles you're interested in and head to the Web to research previous vehicle recalls. If you are buying a used car, websites like CarFax.com and others can also show you the history of that particular car, giving you insight into just how reliable it will be.
* Where's the value? Whether safety is your top concern or you want the most vehicle for your money, it's all about value. USAA, which provides car buying guidance (or help) and recommendations to its members, recently released its fourth-annual Best Value list identifying the top vehicles for 2014. The list includes vehicles that finished at the top of USAA's preferred propriety rating system, which evaluates safety, reliability, cost and other factors. There is also a list of the top 10 vehicles for teens, which you can review if you'll soon be sharing a garage with a new driver.
* How will you pay for it? Behind safety, financing is probably the most important thing to consider when buying a new car. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you've thoroughly researched your financing options. And remember, you have other options besides what the dealership offers you.
* Are there any physical concerns you need to remember? Not every vehicle is perfect for every person. Think about yourself and who will most often ride with you. If you or your passengers are very tall, a smaller sedan may not make sense. Likewise, people who have mobility challenges may not be comfortable getting into a large pickup truck.
* Will it grow with your family? Sure it fits your needs now, but what about next year? The year after that? Whether it is children, pets or joining the office carpool, consider the fact that the space you need presently might not be the space you need even a year from now.
Shopping for a new car can be an exciting experience, but it can be nerve-wracking as well. As you begin your search, remember these questions and you'll be closer to finding the vehicle of your dreams. To learn more about USAA's Best Value list, visit usaa.com/bestvalue.