When you’re on the market for a personal car, there are only a handful of considerations you need to make such as the gas mileage, price, and long-term value of the vehicle. However, buying a family car is an entirely different experience: suddenly, you have to think for your entire brood and the heightened stakes can feel stressful to many buyers.
If you want to take your family on those adventurous, fun vacations you’ve always imagined—while ensuring that everyone is as safe and comfortable as possible—there are some key factors you should evaluate before buying a new car. Entering the process with a simple checklist on hand will make the stress vanish and allow you to make a wise, clearheaded decision.
No one anticipates getting in an accident but even if you are a perfect driver, you can’t predict the behavior of other drivers or road conditions. Do your due diligence to make sure the make and model of the cars you’re interested in get high safety ratings.
All cars must pass through an IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) test, conducted by a government organization that evaluates vehicles based on two metrics: crashworthiness and crash avoidance and mitigation.
The first test determines how well occupants are protected in the event of a crash and the second test thoroughly evaluates the car’s ability to preempt a crash by using integrated technology within the car itself. Before seriously considering a family car, you should stop by the IIH’s website to run a quick search on possible vehicle purchases.
Do Your Research
Want to hear a bad idea? Walking into a dealership without looking up the market value and competing prices for the car you’re interested in. The car dealer’s job is to get you to spend as much money as possible and if you’re not equipped with facts about your prospective family car, it’s possible that they will take advantage of you—especially if you are buying from a used car dealership. Don’t undercut your ability to take off on a fun family trip by spending too much money up front.
How Much Should You Spend?
Providing for your family is not a cheap expense so buying a new car shouldn’t put you in any sort of financial hole. If you’re trying to be careful with your money, make sure that the vehicle you’re considering doesn’t have a history of faulty parts or breakdowns, which will prove costly down the road.
It’s imperative that you take an honest look at your savings and spending habits. If you’re having trouble calculating how much you should spend, use a service like the Economic Policy Institute’s budget calculator to make the your decision easier.
Is Luxury Important?
If you make an honest review of your finances and determine that it’s possible for you to spend a little more on your family car, maybe you should consider going with a luxury brand. Often, these cars are equipped with top of the line technology that improve the safety and performance of the vehicle.
If you walk into an Audi dealership near Baltimore, for example, it’s fair to expect that dealers will also treat you to the best possible customer service, given that the hard-earned reputation of their brand is on the line.
What Does Your Family Like To Do?
Do you go skiing or snowboarding in the winter? Are you a beach family and need room for surfboards and boogie boards? Are your kids getting into sports and need to be driven to and from games? Thinking about these questions helps frame what size car you should be looking for and what kind of features you might be interested in.
Do You Have A Big Family?
A mistake some families make is buying a family car that is appropriate for their current family structure but that doesn’t consider the possibility of growth. Maybe you only have one child, but plan to have more kids in the future—would it make sense to buy a car that only has a couple seats?
If you make the prudent decision of buying a car with more space—which can also help if you need to accommodate pets or friends of your children—it will save you a lot of stress down the line when you realize you need an upgrade.