4 Rules for Buying Your First Family Car

By Angela Monroe - August 18, 2020

4-Rules-for-Buying-Your-First-Family-Car

Buying your first family car is of huge importance. Safety, reliability, child seat anchors, comfort, infotainment, practicality… just some of the things that go into the decision.

New or used? SUV or sedan or something else? What brand?

We help you make that decision with these 4 rules….

Budget

calculator

Rule 1: Crunch your numbers and do your research.

We’ll start with the big one. Often, first family cars are aimed at young couples with growing families. That’s a lot of people – most of us find ourselves in that position in life at some stage. The small car or sports car from our early 20s isn’t cutting the mustard anymore. Make sure you know when to trade in or sell your current car so you get the best deal too.

Look at insurance, fuel economy and servicing. Remember, if your family is growing, there can be a lot of expenses. Sometimes, paying a larger amount for a new car can save money in the long run as you can avoid costly repairs on a used car. Often, finance rates are lower on new cars and with a little preparation, you can boost your chances of approval.

Safety

child looking out window

Rule 2: Know and understand the safety features.

Just like there are must-have features for first-time drivers, there are important safety features for family cars too. Modern car safety features really reduce accidents and save lives. In fact, some driver assist technology that was considered a top-trim option just a few years ago is becoming a standard feature on new models. With more acronyms than a government report, it’s hard to know what they actually do…

Modern safety features and what they do: 

AEB – Auto Emergency Braking: Detects potential oncoming collisions and automatically applies the brakes.

PD – Pedestrian Detection: Handy in car parks, it can detect people and cyclists and sounds an alert when necessary. 

FCW – Forward Collision Warning: Similar to AEB but gives an audio warning often with a visual warning too in the event of an impending collision.

BSW – Blind Spot Warning: Detects other vehicles in your blind spot making lane changes safer.

LDW – Lane Departure Warning: Sounds an alert if your vehicle drifts into another lane without signalling.

RCTW – Rear Cross Traffic Warning: Detects vehicles and sometimes pedestrians approaching from the sides when reversing.

LKA – Lane Keeping Assistance: Makes adjustments to the steering to keep your vehicle in your lane.

ACC – Adaptive Cruise Control: Assists with accelerating and braking to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Warranty

signing papers

Rule 3: Get the longest warranty you can.

Every car buyer knows a warranty from the manufacturer is super-important. Avoid expensive repair costs and have that added peace of mind. Make sure you get the longest warranty you can. Note that buying a used car doesn’t mean the original owner keeps the warranty, they are transferable and attached to the vehicle.

A warranty is basically the manufacturer saying: “we back our products and we’ll pay for anything that goes wrong for X years but when that runs out, you’re on your own.”

Some family car warranty lengths: 

Audi Q5 – 3 yr / unlimited kms

BMW X5 – 3 yr / unlimited kms

Mazda CX-3 – 5 yr / unlimited kms

Mitsubishi ASX – 5 yr / 100,000 kms

Toyota RAV4 – 5 yr / unlimited kms

Toyota Kluger – 5 yr / unlimited kms

Volvo XC60 – 5 yr / unlimited kms

Ford Mondeo Station Wagon – 5 yr / unlimited kms

KIA Sportage – 7 yr / unlimited kms

Seating

child in seat

Rule 4: Buy for your family.

It can be tempting to go for a big 7-seater SUV but remember that you’ll pay for it. Depending on the number of kids you have (or are planning to have), try to choose a vehicle that can comfortably accommodate your family’s needs and driving habits.

Note that some cars won’t take three baby seats in the back as they don’t come with that many anchor points. Modern cars often use ISOFIX mounts to fit baby seats. They allow a simple clip at the top and bottom of the baby seat without having to use a belt as well as the one in the baby seat itself.

On the other hand, a larger vehicle may allow you to separate them if they fight or cause problems when near each other. 

Tip: Compared to cloth, leather seats are far easier when cleaning spills if you get to them quickly.

End of the Day…

child laughing

Modern family cars from the majority of manufacturers are fantastic. That’s a bold statement, but if you consider the new safety, driver assist technology and manufacturing processes they’re built on, it’s hard to go wrong. That said, looking at the actual cars in person and shopping around can be a huge help. Electric vehicles and hybrids are becoming more affordable too. Make sure you actually like the look and feel of the car in comparison to other models on offer. Luckily, when buying your first family car, there are a lot of options available so do your research. Make sure you know the different trim levels and variants of the options that suit you.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.

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