Buying a car for your family is something you have to get right. Choosing the wrong model can be an expensive mistake, especially if you end up having to change car within a few years of your original purchase. So what should you be looking for when buying a family car? Creditplus have put together a selection of our ten top tips so that you can make sure that the car you buy is the perfect choice for your family.
When you are thinking about having a family or are surprised by one on the way (it happens!), you are faced with a number of different questions you have to ask yourself. Is your home big enough? How will you balance work with looking after the baby? And, of course, what do you do about your car?
The sporty little two-seater you love or your old second-hand hatchback that you’ve had since you first passed your test may be perfect for you and your partner, but it also may soon no longer be suitable. So you need to find the right car that will not only fit your new baby, but also your family as it grows older and larger over the years. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself when you think about buying a new family car:
Is it big enough? – You need to be sure that you’ll have room for the baby (or babies), buggies and all the bags and accessories your little one needs.
Is it safe enough? – Does your car provide enough protection? (Will go into more detail on this later)
How many children am I planning? – This may seem like a serious question, but it is something to bear in mind. If you are buying a car before the baby arrives, you will want to consider how many children will one day be sat in your car.
You may also want to consider what day to day activities you will be using the car for. We all know about the school run or going to the supermarket for your weekly shop, but will you be using the car for work? Do you have relatives that live far away, which means regular long journeys on the motorway? These are all things to consider.
A smart, sturdy crossover SUV that is much more affordable than the Nissan Qashqai.
Knowing what you need from your car means that you don’t necessarily have to choose one marketed as a “family” car. If you know you are going to spend a lot of time commuting, you can choose a more hardworking saloon that will be just as at home on the school run as it is the motorway. Know that you are going to stick with one child? Then a hatchback could be the right option, giving you a range of market leading models to choose from. By being aware of the exact needs of your family, you can find a car that is right for you.
Cars have never been as safe as they are today. Smart technology combined with better materials means that modern cars can protect drivers and passengers better than they ever have. And it’s not just the latest models, but that doesn’t mean you should expect the car you buy to provide the protection you need. So what should you be looking for?
The first thing to do is to visit the Euro NCAP website and see what safety rating your car has been given. This is an EU funded scheme that checks how a car provides protection for drivers, adult passengers and child passengers. You can search by make, model, or safety rating.
Next, you should look at what fittings the car has for child seats. You may think that a specialist car seat is just for babies, but you can get seats suitable for children up to ten years old. The most popular form of child seat fixtures are known as ISOFIX. For more on choosing the right car seat, visit the Creditplus guide for children's car seats.
You will also want to look at airbags and whether they can be adapted for children or disabled, and also whether your car doors can be switched to a child lock.
This sleek looking 7-seater comes with top marks for child safety from Euro NCAP. For more on MPVs, read our 7-seater car comparison blog post.
It’s not just children you have to fit in your family car. You will also need to fit buggies, bags, extra shopping, a whole range of different baggage that comes with children. It’s not just about space either. Some cars are better than others for getting your buggy folded away inside. So your car may have more boot space advertised (often measured in litres), but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to get your buggy inside.
A lot of cars also come with variations in seat layout. You can fold some away completely, change layout to provide more legroom, and even remove them from the car entirely. Don’t just look at the potential layouts available. Look at how easy it is to move and manipulate them, for both you and your partner.
Whether you need a three or five-door model will depend on your family. Remember, children grow up, and won’t always appreciate having to climb in and out of the back seat through the front. It can also be difficult to add and remove a car seat in a three door, and can be especially difficult if you are trying to tuck in a sleeping child.
If you are going for a larger MPV, you may want to choose a car with sliding doors. MPVs are wider, so parking is more difficult. Factor in opening a traditional-style door and it can mean you are left with little room to manoeuvre in and out.
With a range of seating options available, the versatile Astra also won’t break the bank.
There are two things almost guaranteed with children – mess and noise. So you may want to consider this when choosing a car to buy. For example, upholstery. Is it easy to clean should there be any accidents – either through food and drink being spilled or something altogether more … biological? While you may not want to buy seats covered in easy-wipe plastic, you may want to think again about choosing the more fancy cloth or leather seating that is likely to get stained.
Keeping children entertained can be the difference between a relaxing journey and the road to hell. And unfortunately Homer Simpson’s bubble car is a work of fiction! If you have children that need to be constantly stimulated, then a game of “I spy” may only last for so long. So why not look at the cars with built in DVD players. Screens in the back of your seats can help keep your child entertained so you can focus on the road ahead.
Having children is going to put a little extra strain on your budget, no matter how much you earn. The pressure of having children on the way, or dealing with a car that is no longer suitable, can lead you to make a decision far quicker than you should.
As with anything, shopping around will get you the best deal. When you have an idea of the model you want, search online and take a look at the prices on offer. Even if you are after a brand new car, look at different dealers and see what they are offering. And remember, the months before the number plates change (March and September) are great times to pick up a deal.
While your family obviously takes priority, you will want to make sure the car fits your needs too. Choosing a car with comfortable seats for you in the front can help lighten the load after a long day out.
You may also want to take a look at some technology for your needs. Bluetooth phone connectivity can mean you can use your phone without breaking the law – ideal if you have a pack of unruly kids in the back and need to call your partner for backup!
Climate control divided between the front and back of the car is also a great way to ensure your kids are happy without causing you too much discomfort. Compromise can save you a lot of whinging, whining and headaches – although we can’t promise you won’t fight with your partner over controlling your section!
One of the bestselling cars on the market, the high build quality makes this a great all-rounder for growing families.
Finding a car with good fuel economy can help you stretch the budget a little further. Choosing a car with a well-tested engine and excellent MPG is a great way to cut down on your monthly fuel bills. As well as saving money on fuel, finding a car with an efficient engine can help cut down your tax bill. Every penny saved will be more than welcome once you have a family to take care of.
As well as considering fuel consumption, you will also want to take a look at reliability. Not just because breaking down with a car full of kids is a nightmare, but constantly needing to have your car serviced and repaired will put a serious strain on your budget. When you research cars and prices, look for reliable cars with reliable engines. Also look for a good warranty or any extras that offer free servicing. It will help lighten the load and running costs of your car.
Combining reliability with a high performing hybrid engine, buying a car like this is a worthwhile investment that will save you money in the long term.
Start by sitting down and going through everything you might need from your new car. Then it’s about searching through the different models. Read reviews from websites you trust to get an idea of some cars that fit your criteria.
Then it’s about shopping around for the best deal. You can search through thousands of nearly new and used cars using Creditplus extensive car search.
Once you’ve found the car that’s right for you at a price you can afford, it’s simply a matter of working out a payment plan. If you’re thinking of car finance as an option, Creditplus will help you find the right package to spread the cost of your new car into manageable monthly payments. Complete our 2-minute online application form for a no obligation quote, and one of our customer advisors will be in touch to help you every step of the way. You’ll soon be behind the wheel of the perfect car for your family.