When you’re single with no responsibilities a car is a luxury item that you can choose for its style and colour over its practicality. Then you have children and life changes. Out goes the sporty two-seater and in comes the people carrier that you once swore you would never drive.
The fact is that when you get pregnant and have children your priorities change. Having a reliable, safe and roadworthy car is much more important than one that will impress the neighbours.
If you’ve found you have outgrown your car and need a more family-friendly version, it can be tempting to buy the first reasonably priced vehicle you come across. But you will probably keep your family car for years, so it is vital that you make the right decision.
New or used?
As few families can afford to buy brand new, state-of-the-art cars, many expecting and new parents are turning to second hand dealers to buy their family car. For years second-hand car dealers had a bad name, but now the majority are professional, honest and trustworthy, who offer their customers genuinely good deals. If you’ve only had new cars in the past, but are now on a tighter budget don’t discount second hand cars, instead look around and you will be surprised about the condition and reliability of many used cars.
As the price is often the deciding factor when it comes to buying a family car, before you even start looking it’s important to decide how much you can realistically afford to spend.
With today’s economy it is unlikely that you will have thousands of pounds lying in the bank, so you will probably need to take out a loan or finance. Many car dealers offer competitive finance deals, while banks will often provide loans at good rates. If you do need to borrow money, ensure that you do so from a reputable company or bank that offer an affordable interest rate.
Now that the practical aspect of money has been decided, you need to look at what sort of car you want. For many families the size of the car is important and looking for a five-door is recommended, unless you fancy struggling with getting a baby seat into the backseat of a three-door. And with many modern families including children from previous relationships you might need a larger car even if most of the time there is just the three of you.
If you are expecting you first child it can be easily to overlook the boot size, but as any parent will tell you, this is important. Once your baby arrives, you will need the space to transport prams and pushchairs, not to mentions an unbelievable amount of luggage when visiting family and friends overnight.
You want to ensure that you and your family are as safe as possible when driving, so a car with excellent safety features is a must. Although all cars now have standard features such as air bags and Antilock Brake System, there are some extra ways to increase a vehicle’s safety. For example, studies show that even when both vehicles have the same safety equipment those that are heavier offer more protection during a collision than light vehicles. Also some cars are now designed specifically with safety in mind and are built to withstand high impact collisions. If you speak to a reputable car dealer they should be able to point you in the direction of the safest cars.
Although airbags are a great safety feature it should be remembered that they can be dangerous if you put the child seat in the front. Instead always secure it in the rear seat and if you do need to put it in the front, make sure that you disable the air bag first.
With family financial budgets constantly tightening, few can afford a fuel guzzling vehicle anymore. Instead many people are preferring to buy family cars that are as fuel efficient as possible. Newer cars tend to be more fuel efficient than older ones, so looking at models that are five years old or less would probably provide the best options. The one dilemma for many people buying a family car is the fact that smaller cars use less petrol than larger ones, but in reality are less practical. To help you choose the right model, many car dealers will provide a breakdown of how fuel efficient the vehicle is.
Written by Derin Clark