Choosing a car can big a big decision, and if you are thinking of buying a new one, with so many factors to consider, you are probably wondering about how to make up your mind.
If this is a dilemma you are currently facing, we’re here to help – here’s our guide to choosing the right car for you to help answer the question, what kind of car should I get?
Since there’s so much to cover and we don’t have space to go into all the details, here’s a video you can watch for some extra tips on how to choose the perfect car.
1. Assess your needs
The first step in choosing a car is to assess your needs in a realistic way.
Thinking about your priorities and requirements in a methodical way will give you a clear idea of the kind of vehicle you should be looking at. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself.
How many people do you usually drive?
The number of passengers you will usually be carrying is an obvious point to consider. If you have a large family – or if your family is likely to grow in the coming years – you will need a car that’s large enough to accommodate everyone comfortably.
What kind of journey do you need your car for?
Another important factor is the type of driving you most often need your car for. Do you usually use your car for short trips in the city? Do you have a long commute to work? Do you need to drive long distances across the country? Do you often take your vehicle off-road?
These questions affect the type of car you choose. For example, for long-distance driving, choosing a model with good fuel consumption might be advisable. However, if you need to go off-road, choosing a 4 x 4 option could be essential.
Do you have somewhere to park?
It’s no good buying a large SUV-type vehicle if it won’t fit in your garage.
Start your search by making a list of your practical requirements such as these and any others that are relevant to you before you think about anything else so you are clear about the kind of vehicle you should be looking at.
2. Choose the style of car
Once you are clear about what you need your car for, you will have a better idea of which type to go for. Here are the main types you will be choosing from – choose the one that is best suited to your needs.
Hatchbacks can be either two-door or four-door versions, and the defining feature is the trunk ‘door’ that opens upwards. They are good all-rounders and can work well as a city car.
However, if you have a large family, perhaps with a couple of kids and a dog, a small hatchback might not be large enough.
Sedans are larger than hatchbacks and typically have four doors and a regular-style trunk. They are a good choice for professionals, and since they are more spacious, they are generally more comfortable than hatchbacks, making them suitable for longer journeys.
They could also be suitable as a family car if you have two or three children.
As the name suggests, people carriers are designed to hold more people, making them a good option if you have a large family or otherwise need to transport more people.
SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are big vehicles that give you more clearance from the ground, making them suitable for off-road driving or driving in more challenging conditions.
Many people like the style of SUVs, but they tend to have higher fuel consumption so might not be the best option for city driving or for long-distance journeys.
A coupé is a small two-door car. They are generally sporty and can be a great option for city driving. On the other hand, they are not usually ideal as family cars.
Convertible cars are ones with a roof than can be pulled down. They are fun cars to own, especially if you live somewhere with warm summer weather.
3. Consider safety features and other useful additions
Think about the kind of features you see as essential. For example, do you need adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection or automatic emergency braking?
How about USB outlets for charging phones, rear entertainment systems or Apple CarPlay? Again, be clear about what you see as essential before you start looking.
4. Work out your budget
Once you know the type of car you want and the features you need, you need to look at your budget.
When budgeting for a car, it’s very important that you calculate exactly rather than just guess.
Unless you are planning to buy the car outright, you will probably be relying on financing or other similar options. This means paying off the car will become part of your monthly outgoings for some time to come.
Ideally, you shouldn’t be spending more than about 15% of your monthly income on paying off your car. If it works out significantly higher than this figure, you should consider going for something less expensive.
5. Consider the advantages of new vs used
Understand the relative advantages and disadvantages of buying a used car vs buying a new one.
Although buying a used car will be cheaper, you may be faced with higher upkeep costs since you can never be sure how the car’s previous owners treated it.
Understand, too, that new cars depreciate more quickly than used cars – and that some new cars depreciate more quickly than others. This means choosing one that holds its value longer could be a better financial option.
In short, do your research into the pros and cons of new vs used and choose the best option for your situation. Check out this video for more info.
6. Test drive a car before you buy
Once you have found the right car for you, make sure you take it for a test drive – and try to test drive it in the conditions you will be using it in. For example, if it’s a city car, test drive it in the city. Then you will have a good idea of whether it really is the car you’re looking for.
Consider all of these factors and make up your mind
The key is understanding very clearly what you need in terms of the practical aspects as well as the additional features. This will help you decide which category of car you should be looking at.
Work out your budget to see how much you can afford to spend – and then choose the best option from the cars that meet your requirements and are within your financial limits.