21 Feb 2012
What type of car should I buy?
Whether you are buying new or used, it is important to do your research and decide what type of car you are looking for before you start visiting dealers or private sellers. If you just enter a dealership without knowing what you want, chances are that you will make a wrong decision and regret your purchase.
We recommend that you follow these simple steps to ensure you get the car that suits you best;
- Work out your budget
- Choose the correct car type
- Research potential makes/models
- Consider the ongoing costs
- Test drive to find what you like
- Check the vehicle history before buying any car
Work out your budget
Obviously one of the biggest factors in determining what car you will buy is the amount you are able to spend on it. This can be made up of savings, borrowings, trading in another vehicle or any combination. It is important to work out what you are able to (or are willing to) spend before you start looking at cars to buy as the prices will vary greatly across makes/models.
While car loans or finance options are not as widely available as they once were it is still very useful to see what options are out there by contacting your bank or talking to reputable car dealers.
Choose the correct car type
It is important that you buy a vehicle that is practical and suitable to your needs. Think about what style of vehicle suits you best, hatchback, saloon, estate, sports utility vehicle (SUV) or multi-purpose vehicle (MPV – people carrier). To help you choose, you need to consider all aspects of the vehicle and how you intend to use it:
- Do you carry passengers regularly? How many people will you carry at a time, or might you be carrying pets?
- Are they elderly? Do you currently have accessibility needs or are you likely to in the near future?
- Are your circumstances likely to change in the lifetime of the vehicle? A growing family could mean you need space for a pram, or just need more room for teenagers. Or if your children have moved out, you might think about getting a smaller vehicle.
- What other cargo do you need to carry? You may want to carry sports equipment, or bulky work-related items, and will need to judge the size of the boot accordingly. Will you need a roof-rack? If you need to tow a trailer or a caravan, consider whether the engine and suspension is strong enough to allow this.
Another important factor to consider is what sort of mileage are you likely to do? If you will be doing a lot of mileage then comfort, fuel economy, reliability and/or environmental concerns might be foremost in your mind. Therefore, some thought needs to go into what sort of engine is best suited to your travelling habits:
- If you need the vehicle for short journeys only, a smaller engine may be more suitable.
- Petrol or Diesel? Many owners who have high mileage needs choose diesel cars for fuel economy.
- Environmental concerns or taxation of cars with higher emissions might make buying a hybrid/biofuel vehicle a worthwhile option
Research potential makes/models
Once you have a rough idea on what type of car you are looking for, do as much research as you can. Read reviews and consumer reports, ask colleagues and friends for their opinion, compare options on the make & model in which you are interested in.
Log on to motoring sites and classified ad sites to see what models you like the look of. Check out the photos of the interior to see if they meet your requirements.
Is there anything in particular you want in this vehicle by way of additional equipment? You may want a sunroof or air-conditioning, or an automatic transmission? Will you be need a vehicle that can handle rugged terrain? Create a list of what you need versus what you want in a car.
Consider the ongoing costs
You need to be aware what the ongoing costs will be and how they can vary depending on the car you buy. The following should be considered;
- Ongoing maintenance costs – these can vary greatly depending on the manufacture and age of the vehicle
- Insurance cover – while there are a number of factors that affect how much insurance you pay you need to be aware of how the vehicle itself can impact on this e.g. the value of the vehicle, engine size etc.
- Motor tax rates – this is calculated from either the CO2 emissions or engine size of the vehicle (depending on when it was first registered). Please see our motor tax guide for private vehicles.
Test drive to find what you like
Until you actually drive a car you won’t know what it is like or ultimately how you feel about it. Is there enough leg/head room for you? How does it feel to drive? Is the driving position too high/low for you?
There is no car that suits everyone so find the cars you like by trying them out.
Check the vehicle history before buying any used car
Finally, if you are buying a second hand car then it is vital that you find out as much about it before deciding to buy it. A small amount of time take in looking at the vehicle history may uncover something that will save you a huge amount of trouble and cost.
MyWheels offer vehicle history reports from as little as €6.00 so there is really no excuse for not buying a vehicle report before committing. The report will show if the vehicle was written off, used as a taxi or hackney cab, imported from another country, is taxed or has a current NCT and so much more. Considering how much you are paying to buy a car it is a very small additional cost for peace of mind.