Friday, 22 January 2016

How to buy your next family car

Ah, bigger cars. They’re one of the many symptoms of change in life when starting a family. And sure, it’s good change; the kind of change you wouldn’t, er, change for the world. But it is change nonetheless, and there will sadly come a time when that handy little run-around parked in the driveway that you love so much no longer cuts the mustard.

Time to say goodbye, and find a set of wheels that will provide a spacious home for the car seats, the sports equipment, the strollers and all the rest. But how best to do it? What’s the formula for ensuring that this important upgrade allows you to get the most out of it for the least amount of spend and stress?

Picking the right one
The first thing to do is determine what kind of car will best fit the bill physically. Have you thought as far as safety? Saloon, hatchback or estate? Are the seats flexible? And what about the colours of the interior materials? I found an article in Auto Trader which provides 5 helpful hints to ensure that your next family chariot ticks all the boxes in terms of specifications and body style. Have a peruse!

Getting good-value finance
Upsizing and upgrading has one unfortunate consequence… ‘up-pricing’. If you are trading in and don’t have sufficient funds to cover the difference, you’ll need to delve into the world of car loans. Obviously debt in itself isn’t that palatable, but given that you’re borrowing money to fund the purchase of an asset, there’s no need to feel too reticent. What’s more, with such low interest rates at the moment, and a more competitive loans market, you’re actually well placed to get a good deal. Peer-to-peer lenders in particular offer APRs as low as 6% for car loans, so with a bit of research, you can easily take the sting out of financing your new vehicle.

Petrol or diesel?
It’s an often misunderstood, dichotomising question. It comes down to personal choice, but the rule of thumb is that diesel cars are more fuel efficient and have low road tax costs. However, they are generally more expensive to buy, and usually – albeit not at the moment – more pricey at the pumps. So, to make it easy, ask yourself this: Am I going to be covering a lot of mileage with this car? If so, diesel may be the better option.

Your stats checklist
There are a few other things that may slip under the radar of uninformed eyes when discussing features and whatnot. 

Here are a few figures and stats to be conscious of:

·         Euro NCAP Rating – It is actually almost mandatory for cars to have a 5-star rating these days, so it’s a warning sign if yours doesn’t. But be sure to check the numbers and whether the car stacks up on individual, adult, child and safety assist ratings.

·         MPG – Miles per gallon, the ever present of the imperial system. It’s also the crucial benchmark in gauging comparative fuel efficiency of different cars. The lower, the better!

·         CO2 Emission – This isn’t just about being environmentally conscious (although that’s important too!). The lower your emission, the less you’ll pay in road tax. Save the earth by saving money!

·         Insurance Grouping – Be sure to scope this one out. Insurance is the cost that just keeps on taking, so the lower the group the car falls into, the better you’re setting yourself up going forward.

·         Warranty – The term of this will vary depending on what you’re after. Just make sure that in your excitement to grab the keys, you don’t forget to drive out of there with a peace-of-mind inducing warranty. It’s really important that if something goes wrong in the near future, it won’t result in hassle and/or a hole in the pocket for you.

That’s about it from this ‘car expert’. It’s a really exciting time, and I remember the smile on our faces when we drove out of the dealership with our bigger wagon. But in your haste to get behind the wheel of your new addition to the house, take care in order to go about things the right way. After all, you want to be sure that your new family car is as wonderful as your family itself!

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