Almost half of Americans make some sort of New Year’s resolution. While quitting smoking, dropping some weight and getting more sleep are great goals for 2015, we have some resolutions car buyers should make. We asked top automotive analysts, writers and editors what car shoppers should resolve to do in 2015. Here’s what they said.

Find a car that works for you, but don

Do Your Homework:

  • “Read up on current incentives in your region and know the cash rebates before you contact the dealership. Remember, however, that any special financing usually requires prime credit, so know your score before you head in.” – Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor at Cars.com
  • “Browse vehicles online at both automaker websites and editorial reviews. Get an understanding of what type of vehicle you want and then view those cars in person at a dealer or (even better) at an auto show. After looking at the cars in person, make sure to test drive at least 2-3 cars. Curb appeal is important, but it’s the experience inside that will drive owner satisfaction.” – Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar
  • “Researching expert reviews and market prices before you head to do the dealership can save you significant money and time.” – Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Cars.com

[See the Best New Car Discounts and Incentives]

Find the Right Car for You:

  • “Resolve to choose the right car in addition to paying the right price. It is a far bigger mistake to choose the wrong vehicle than to overpay for the right vehicle.” -- Jack Nerad, executive editorial director for Kelley Blue Book
  • “Think long term about what functionality you need from your car and potential variables in your expenses and lifestyle over that time period. Don’t be distracted in the moment solely by gas prices! Are you part of a growing family in the suburbs (minivan) or are you thinking of moving to a big city for your next career opportunity (small car) or perhaps you’re finally going to get away from it all and live in the mountains (AWD).” -- Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar
  • “The very first step of the car-shopping process should be a self-assessment. Be very honest about what you need versus what you want in a vehicle and how much you can afford.” – Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for AutoTrader.com

[Learn more about How to Choose the Right Car]

Consider a Used Car:

  • “The used-car market will see a rising influx of vehicles over the next couple years, which means dealers will have a greater variety of used cars to sell. This includes an increasing number of Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles with comprehensive warranty coverage. Shoppers wanting the piece-of-mind that comes from buying a new vehicle should consider a CPO vehicle, which will offer new-car-like confidence at a much lower cost. Almost every major automotive brand has a CPO program, so going this route won’t limit a buyer’s options with regard to vehicle type or price range.” -- Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book 
  • “CPO vehicles provide great value as an alternative to new cars with lower prices and enhanced warranties.” -- Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Cars.com

[Check out our Used Car Rankings to find the best used car, as well as the best CPO deals]

Don’t Assume Low Gas Prices Will Last Forever:

  • “The recent drop in fuel prices has many people reconsidering their vehicle options. But as we’ve seen countless times in the past, fuel prices can rise even faster than they fall, which means fuel could be at $4-a-gallon in June. If a consumer buys a large vehicle with relatively low fuel efficiency they should be prepared to pay a wide range of fuel prices over the next five years.” – Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book 
  • “Don’t be distracted in the moment solely by gas prices!” -- Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar

Don’t Shop By Monthly Payment:

  • “Most people finance their car, but you should never shop based solely on the monthly payment. Always know the full price and all loan terms.” -- Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor at Cars.com
  • “The rise of the 72- and 84-month car loan has made it easier for people to buy a new vehicle because of the low monthly payments. But unless they negotiate a zero-percent interest rate, which is unlikely for such a long loan period, the interest charge on those low monthly payments can add up considerably over the course of six or seven years.” -- Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book 
  • “… my biggest resolution for buyers is more of a practical one: if you're buying a car, don't sign your life away to a super-long car loan. New car sales skyrocketed in 2014, but so did seven, eight and even nine-year car loan terms. Don't be that buyer! Figure out what the purchase will mean to your financial life over the entire term of the lease or loan, not just what it means for your monthly budget.” -- Patrick George, senior writer at Jalopnik

Negotiate Like a Pro:

  • “Have you settled on a car’s ‘price’ before, only to see unexpected extras like documentation or dealer prep fees later on? Resolve to ask up front for the final, out-the-door price of the car, including any sales tax, title, license and documentation fees, before you begin any negotiations. Secure the price in writing, and negotiate on that number alone.” -- Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor at Cars.com
  • “Don’t get married to a specific vehicle. To get the best deal, you must be willing to walk away and have patience for a better deal.” -- Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for AutoTrader.com
  • “If you are financing your car purchase, get pre-approval from your finance partner (bank, credit union), but always see if the dealer can beat the offer you brought in ‘off the street.’ Pay attention to the total cost of the loan (not just the monthly payment) as well as any upfront costs (down payment and fees) associated the loan options. More often than not, the dealer will be able to meet or beat the deal you have which is a win/win for you and the dealer.” -- Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar
  • “Resolve to understand the value of your trade-in during the car purchase process. Many people bargain ferociously on the price of the new car and then give all that they've negotiated for -- and more -- away by undervaluing their trade.” -- Jack Nerad, executive editorial director for Kelley Blue Book

Consider Leasing:

  • “If you do think short term, leasing can be an excellent option with lower expenses up front and on an ongoing basis. Perhaps you have concerns about long-term quality for a new brand of vehicle that you’ve never owned before. If you’re a small business owner, leasing can offer a bigger tax break. Even if you lease, you can still use TrueCar to obtain a fair capitalized cost (transaction price) of your new vehicle.” -- Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar
  • “We are in the middle of a perfect storm for ideal leasing conditions with very high residual values and low interest rates. Leasing can enable you to get a lot of car for the money.” -- Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Cars.com

[See the Best Lease Deals]

Stay Safe:

  • “Resolve to drive undistracted. Once you sign the papers on that shiny new ride, chances are it will have a lot more tech than whatever you traded in: Bluetooth streaming audio, touch-screen apps, voice recognition systems, you name it. Get comfortable with the electronics before you start driving, and resolve to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes — and attention — on the road.” -- Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor at Cars.com
  • “Consumers shopping for safety in 2015 should look for vehicles with crash avoidance technologies, such as forward collision warning and automatic braking, as well adaptive headlights. While the jury is out on the effectiveness of many of the driver assist technologies available on new vehicles, these are the three features that are working in the real world and are worth the money.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president, communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute

Have Fun:

  • “What is more joyous than taking delivery of a new car? Be sure to find a salesperson who feels the same way. You want one that listens, that thinks about what you want and then adds to the conversation. It's your money (and it’s a lot of it). If your salesperson doesn't get it (and so many don't), ask the sales manager for someone else or just leave. You don't have to be mad or give it a second thought. Find someone who works for you.” -- Jean Jennings, editor-in-chief of Jeanknowscars.com
  • “Do your research, but trust your right brain a little more and get the fun car over the boring car. Life is too short to drive boring cars. Your soul will thank you if you get the Mustang over the Accord.” – Patrick George, senior writer at Jalopnik

Will you be buying a car in 2015? Check out our new car rankings and our used car rankings to find the right car for you. Our Best Price Program has guaranteed no-haggle pricing. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest car news and best car deals.