Vroom, vroom!

If you're wondering what kind of car makes the best investment, stop wondering. It's true that a few well-cared-for cars can appreciate over time, but in general, it's best to not think of cars as investments. For most of us, they're simply necessary means of transportation. Cars tend to decrease in value over time. That's why it's generally true that the less you spend on cars, the better. That doesn't mean you should always buy the cheapest available car. Spending a little more on a car that will be reliable and last a long time can be a very smart strategy. Consider a good used vehicle, too, since it can be cheaper to own in the long run.

Here's an eye-opening snippet from Dummies.com:

In addition to the fact that new cars can depreciate 30% to 40% in only two years, buying or leasing a new vehicle can continue to cost you several hundred dollars a month for an average of three years. As one Consumer Reports Buying Guide put it, "A new car depreciates 20% to 30% the minute you drive it off the dealer's lot." Why not buy a two- or three-year-old used vehicle and let some other hotshot take the loss?

You can go through all of your life having bought a house just once, but you'll likely buy a car five to 10 times -- if not more. Add all those expenses together, and they'll probably amount to the cost of a house. Buying a car involves a significant amount of money. You can probably save hundreds of dollars, if not a thousand or more, on your next purchase by putting some tips and strategies to work.

For much more on the ins and outs of the car-buying process, check out the Fool's car-buying area and ask any questions on our Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board. Or just drop in to see what others are saying. Our discussion board community is broad and deep -- and friendly. Topics discussed on the board have included whether to file an insurance claim after an accident, the top 10 car stars, anti-theft devices, auto shipping, whether to buy a new or used minivan, dealer-financing gotchas, and how to donate a car.