In almost every parent’s life, there comes a time when you’ll need to upsize the family car. For some parents, their sporty two-door isn’t going to fit a car seat in the back, while others might get tired of cramming baby gear, sporting equipment and everything in between into the boot of an ageing sedan.
Whether you’re a first-time parent or expanding your brood, below are some important things to consider when shopping around for a family-friendly car.
For starters, decide what you’ll be using the car for. Is it just going to be for school runs, supermarket shopping and trips to visit the grandparents? If this is the case, you probably don’t need a petrol-guzzling four-wheel drive.
But if you’ll be using it to head off-road on camping trips, or you’ll need to cart lots of stuff around like beach gear, bikes, pets and prams, a bigger car with ample boot space, such as an SUV, might be a better option.
It’s also worth thinking about how many kids you eventually plan on having. A family with three kids will generally require a different vehicle model to a family with just one or two kids.
The purchase price and general running costs
Young families have a lot of household costs to contend with. From childcare and doctor’s visits to groceries and mortgage payments, the list of expenses is lengthy. Therefore it’s important to remain within your means when upsizing. Car loans can be a good way of financing your new wheels without having to dip into your savings, but make sure you can afford the future repayments– you don’t want these to place a strain on the family finances for years to come.
Remember to take the general running costs into account as well, such as regular servicing and car insurance. If you’re selling your existing vehicle first, you’ll need to notify your insurer once you’ve purchased a replacement, so the vehicle’s registration details can be updated on your policy.
Understandably, this is one of the biggest concerns new parents have when upsizing. Some of the crucial safety features you should be looking for include:
- Airbags. These days it’s pretty standard to have airbags that cover all rows of the car and not just the front seats.
- ISOFIX points. These act as fixtures or connection points for children’s car seats. They’re also referred to as tether points depending on what model of car seat you have.
- Blind-spot monitoring. A relatively new safety feature where a certain light will come on if you have a car in your blind spot.
- Reverse camera. It can be a good idea to literally have eyes in the back of your head, especially when backing out of driveways.
- Auto-emergency braking. Also a relatively new feature, your car will automatically brake if something darts out in front of you.
Independent vehicle safety advocates such as the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) also provide safety ratings for over 200 car models. This is a good starting point for determining how safe a particular make is.
Buying a new car is a big decision, especially if it’s going to be ferrying your family around for years to come. Make sure you do plenty of research in the lead-up to purchasing, always take a test drive and remain within your budget to avoid financial stress.