Buying a car can be an exhausting process. There are so many factors to consider, the whole thing can seem overwhelming. New or used? Gas, electric, or hybrid? The options can seem limitless. But purchasing a vehicle doesn’t have to be an ordeal. You just need to understand a few key elements. Here are five factors to consider when assessing vehicle values.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel economy is one of the most important stats people look at when purchasing an auto. This is because a highly fuel-efficient car will save drivers a lot of money of gas. However, those savings are often factored into the price of a vehicle. Hybrids are typically pricier because they offer top-of-the-line consumption stats. Over the long term, a car that goes twice as far per gallon will immensely lower costs. Top-tier fuel efficiency is even more valuable for people who do a lot of driving. Try to calculate your potential fuel costs for each vehicle on your radar. Here’s how to do it:

  • Track how far you drive in an average week—either with a tripmeter or another app.
  • Divide distance driven by miles-per-gallon numbers for each model to find average weekly gas usage.
  • Multiply weekly gallons of gas by average cost per gallon.
  • Multiply average weekly cost by 52 to get average yearly fuel cost.

An estimate of yearly fuel costs will help you determine if paying up for better efficiency is worth it.

Make and Model

The type of car will of course play a big role in its cost. If you’re buying new, luxury vehicles will almost always cost much more. On the other hand, many less flashy autos are better at retaining value. Some of the best brands for retained value are Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Subaru. These makes are all highly reliable, and typically don’t cost a ton new. This means they’re often more desirable after some use. There are a few other ways make and model determine value:

  • Replacement parts are much more expensive for luxury or rare models. A low price tag doesn’t necessarily mean low cost.
  • Insurance rates can fluctuate between different kinds of cars. Compare auto insurance quotes before you make any purchasing decisions.

Age and Mileage

The age and mileage of a vehicle are major indicators of value. There are two main reasons why age is such a huge metric in the auto market. First, things that are older tend to have more problems. Like anything, older vehicles are more prone to breakdowns and other maintenance issues. Car parts wear down with usage. A vehicle that’s 10 or 15 years old is a ticking time bomb for major replacements. Age also lowers the price of an auto because people want modern technology. Not many people are going to pay top dollar for an old sedan without new safety or entertainment features.

Mileage, like age, isn’t the bottom line when it comes to actual value of a vehicle. You often hear stories of well-maintained cars going over 200,000 miles. Although, it almost always will affect the market value of an auto. The higher the mileage, the greater the risk of imminent breakdown.

History

A vehicle’s past is one of the most important indicators of value, but can often be overlooked by anxious buyers. If you’re in the market for a used vehicle, make sure you check its history. Request a CarFax report or another vehicle history timetable from the dealer. They should give this to you for free if you’re really interested in the car. If they’re apprehensive, or refuse, run away as fast as possible. Many seemingly fine, undervalued vehicles have been through natural a natural disaster like a hurricane. Flooded cars often have chronic problems for the rest of their lives. You should also see if the auto has been in any major accidents. Refurbished cars are prone to functionality problems down the line.

Buying a car is a huge investment. It’s important that you know why a vehicle is set at a certain price. If you fail to do your research, you might end up on the receiving end of a bad deal.