With the average size of the Australian household hovering around 2.6 people, choosing the right car for your family can be tricky. A car is generally a big financial investment, so you want something that will suit your family both now and into the long term.
Before you leave to look around at car dealerships or car sale sites, take some time to think about what you and your family need out of a car. Consider how long you will need it, the stage of life your family at (are you planning to have more kids?) and what essential features you require.
Choosing the size of the car and narrowing your brand
With such a vast array of car options out there, narrowing it down to one vehicle can seem overwhelming. By focusing on your key requirements and desired features, you will be able to filter your selection and choose the perfect car for your family.
First of all, decide which body type is right for your family – is it a sedan, hatchback, wagon, SUV, or even something bigger? Think about how much interior space you’ll require; while the majority of options fit 5 people comfortably, it’s not the same case when it comes to luggage or car seats for that matter. If your family does lots of weekend trips, are into sports that require large amounts of gear, or need to cart around a pram, then a hatchback probably won’t suffice. An SUV with a large boot could be a much better choice to meet your needs.
Determining which brand you’ll go for is also a good idea to narrow down your options. Generally speaking, Japanese brands are popular as parts for repairs are easy for mechanics to source, making repairs cheaper in the long run. On the other hand, luxury or speciality models – although desirable to some – can be difficult to replace parts for, so repairs can often be expensive.
Safety features and fuel economy
Safety is also an important point to consider. Whether its extra airbags or a rear-view camera for easy reversing, you’ll have to think how much extra safety features are worth to you and your family. Thinking practically, getting smaller children in and out of the car can be rather stressful, especially with a smaller car that has limited interior space. With children requiring a car or booster seat up until the age of 7, you need to consider whether your car will fit multiple child seats at a time if you have a growing family.
Fuel economy is also worth considering. How much money per week will the car require you spend on petrol? It’s important to research this while keeping your lifestyle in mind, particularly if you enjoy taking road trips on the weekend or need to do lots of city driving.
How to get the best price from the dealership
After you’ve done your own research and have decided on a model and price, choose a few dealerships in your local area to compare prices. In some cases, manufacturers will incentivize dealers to sell to customers that live within their Prime Market Area (PMA), so you’ll generally find the best deal closest to home.
Shopping toward the end of the month or near the end of financial year is best, as dealers will be more pressed to reach their sales targets and may be more open to negotiation to secure a sale.
Be wary of extras and add-ons. Some extras will be necessary, like rust protection if you live on the coast, but often they are superfluous additions that will just increase the total cost. If the dealer is trying to up-sell with extras but you’re unsure, consider shopping for the vehicle only, before returning on a separate visit to negotiate extras.
Other things to consider when buying
There are many other factors to consider when buying a car, including the choice between buying new vs second hand. While buying a brand-new car offers perks such as the latest safety features and technology, most cars depreciate in value quickly, so a brand-new car may not be the most economical choice. If you do opt for second hand, be sure to get a complete history of the car so you’re not caught off guard by unexpected problems down the road.
Setting up a budget is also important. How much are you prepared to spend? Will you require finance? How much will the repayments be? Additionally, always consider maintenance costs. Understand how regularly your car will require servicing and how much this will cost you.
Also, never skip the test drive. You may have done your homework, but no amount of research can really tell you how a car feels unless you drive it yourself. Practice parking, reversing, and turning in a tight corner as these are the things you will do day-to-day.
Buying a family car is not an easy task. Many factors come into play, and with such a wide range of makes and models in the market, it can be hard to choose. Remember to focus on the features that will accommodate your family, stick to your budget, and always shop around.