Baby Hints & Tips

Family Car Checklist: Things to Consider Before you Buy

family car checklist

If you’re buying a new family car it’s wise to have a family car checklist to consider. Adam, a car salesman, shares his tips on making sure this is important purchase really suits your long term needs! 

Often the arrival of a new baby means the need for a bigger car – whether you are about to have you first, third or ninth here are some tips to help you choose the right car.

What is the main use for the car? 

Be clear about the main style of usage for the car so you can make a short list of suitable vehicles, for example you might be towing a horse float or caravan, or driving long distances on a regular basis. Both things should dictate the vehicles you look at for towing capacity and fuel efficiency

What are your cargo needs? 

Consider the current and future cargo needs, including people. If you have 2 kids already the cargo requirements will change if you plan to have a third, it could be an expensive exercise if you are forced to update your car after only a short time. Don’t forget to think about when the kids are older too.

Don’t get family car shopping fatigue 

If you are not a brand ‘die hard’ and you’re considering multiple brands, look at no more than 2 possibly 3 makes in one hit. The more cars you look at the more confused you will be about what you like or want and buy nothing.

How long do you plan on driving the car for? 

Part of your family car checklist should definitely consider how long you are likely you keep your car. If budget permits it a leather interior will be more durable, and be easier to clean and maintain over a longer period of time.

family car checklist

Think about repayments realistically 

If you are borrowing money to purchase your next car, it is a good idea to be realistic about your usage for time and distance. Most people will chase the lowest repayment possible which is understandable but this could cause big problems later. If you change your car every 2-3 years, avoid taking a 5 year loan, you are more likely to owe more on the car than it is worth.

Make sure its as safe as possible 

While it is hard to buy a terrible new car by today’s standards, confirm the vehicle has a good list of modern safety technologies, these can and are likely to save your life and the lives of the people in your car if you are in an accident.

Want to check the safety ratings of any car? This is the website you need: ANCAP Car Safety Ratings.

Don’t get rushed into an emotional decision 

Buying a car is often a battle between the head and the heart. If you don’t know exactly what you want, take your time to ensure the car meets all the practical needs for you and your family. A pretty paint job and a ‘new car smell’ can make for an impulsive decision.

Think closely about your colour choice 

Don’t buy a black or dark colour car if you find it difficult to find the time to maintain it. Dark colours do require more regular attention as they are unforgiving in showing all swirls and marks and it will become obvious to everyone around you, it won’t look good and will be harder to sell.

Does it fit in the garage? 

This might sound an obvious inclusion in your family car checklist but it’s an easy mistake to make. New homes can have smaller depth garages and older homes can have narrow garages. In short, make sure your new car will fit in the garage before you bring it home.

Try not to take the kids car shopping 

If possible, leave the kids with a babysitter. It will be much easier to ask questions (and hear the answers).

Check the anchor points with a long term view to your family’s growth 

Check how many anchor points the car has – most 7 seaters only have three. Take your car seats with you and check if they will fit, especially if you have to fit three. If by chance a second hand car doesn’t have the anchor points you need you can have more installed by an authorised installer. You can find a list of them on your state based motor registry website like this. 

Family Car Checklist

Make sure you check out the boot space! 

Make sure your pram / sports equipment / groceries will fit in the boot – with the door closed. Being a parent can mean carting around a lot of stuff so you want to make these logistics as easy as possible with the right family car choice. 

Avoid stamp duty blow outs 

Remember that stamp duty is usually not included in the cost of the car, so don’t blow your entire budget at the car yard.

Insurance is important 

Organise car insurance before picking your new car up. Accidents can and do happen up the road from the dealership. Don’t let this happen to you, nothing will take the gloss off your new purchase quicker than this! 

Happy shopping for you new wheels! Don’t forget to really make sure you read the family car checklist and establish your priorities before you walk into a dealership. This way you’re much more likely to end up with the right car for you and your crew! 

*This article was updated September 2020 for links and information accuracy.

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