Selecting a car that will be used for the entire family needs a lot of consideration due to the number of different key variables. Not only does the car need to perform the usual functions with aplomb but will need to be durable and reliable as generally these cars are bought on finance and not changed frequently. Proper selection is all the more crucial since you will need to ensure that the vehicle is capable of performing all that will be typically required by your family members. While the exact requirements differ from family to family, there are some general aspects that are common to all acquisitions.
Since most families operate on budgets that are invariably tight, price play a very significant part in selection of the family car. The fact that the economy has not been in the best of health has further compounded the problem since the purchase of a typical family car is usually the second-most expensive item after the home. Since almost all family cars are bought on finance, you also need to bear in mind that over the life of the contract, you will be paying a hefty sum as interest too.
What you always need to keep in mind that in a competitive market, the price is always negotiable to a certain extent. You can also get better prices from a dealership if you agree to sign on a service package or use the services of their captive finance company. However it is necessary to keep a very clear head regarding the math, as dealers always try to recover their money through deals that are always not quite in your favor. Be sure not to be unreasonable when asking for a discount, but remember to stay firm even if the salesman puts on a grave face and says it can’t be done.
Type of Acquisition
One of the biggest issues that you will need to deal with is the decision regarding whether the family car will be bought outright or on lease finance. When you purchase a car outright you can sell it off any time that you choose as you have the full title on it. However, if you take a car on lease, you are obligated to return the car to the dealership after the expiry of the lease period during which you are required to pay a monthly sum for the use. Both methods have their pros and cons and the ultimate decision will be the outcome of your priorities.
Leasing represents the lowest cost of car ownership as you do not have to worry about the value of the car depreciating. Even the maintenance costs will be quite low as the vehicle will be under warranty. If you are able to stick to the mileage limits specified by your lease plan and do not damage the car extensively during the time it is with you, it can be a very economical way of owning a car. While normal wear and tear is okay, be sure not to use the car for extreme sports or off-road driving as the resultant wear and tear will have to be paid for additionally.
While you will be saddled with monthly payments that are higher than lease rentals if you purchase your car outright, you will end up owning an asset that you can sell off at any point of time and get yourself a new car. You also do not need to worry about excessive mileage, or having to pay for nicks and dents. Even if you sell off the vehicle before the finance period is up, usually you will end up by needing to pay only a small difference between the balance owned and the sale proceeds of the car. Thus, essentially the decision between leasing and outright purchase depends on how much you value economy over flexibility.
After the car itself, the cost of fuel is the single-biggest ownership cost of the vehicle. If the car is big it will typically run on diesel that costs less and gives a better fuel efficiency. However, the cars tend to cost more and you have to really clock up a fair bit of mileage before you stand to benefit. Smaller cars will usually operate on petrol. You will need to first select a car size then decide on the most fuel-efficient one. The best way is to read up on the fuel-economy statistics on the manufacturer’s website and also the various reviews and reports available on the web.
Author bio: Mark Henley is an auto correspondent for a leading website dedicated to car reviews and comparisons. Mark not only puts new cars through their paces but also writes regularly on the best buys of certified pre-owned car.