In this April 16, 2014, file photo, the 2015 Toyota Camry is introduced at the New York International Auto Show, in New York. Automakers reported December and full-year sales Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

In this April 16, 2014, file photo, the 2015 Toyota Camry is introduced at the New York International Auto Show, in New York. Automakers reported December and full-year sales Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Automakers sold more than 17 million cars in the United States in 2015, which means that at any given time throughout the year many Americans are getting ready to head out to a dealership. How can you drive away with the best deal? The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers some savvy advice.

Research your options

It’s important to decide up front which models will best suit your needs, a process you can begin by doing research online or asking friends about their experiences with different brands. When doing your comparisons, factors to consider include insurance rates, safety ratings, fuel economy, and ratings from consumer organizations that assess product quality.

See for yourself

While research is valuable, visiting the dealerships and taking test drives are equally important. Bring along the people who may be driving or riding in the vehicle to make sure that everyone is comfortable. If you have young children, bring their car seats or other necessities to make sure they’re easy to load and fit in the available space. Getting a low price doesn’t mean getting a good value if the car doesn’t suit your needs. Call ahead to make an appointment, and avoid going on a busy weekend or evening. Test drive the cars not just around the block, but also on highways and any other types of roads you’ll likely use. Even if the salesperson insists he or she can offer a great deal, feel free to delay your decision if more time is needed to think things through.

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