AA Motoring Car Buyers' Guide: Finding a car for your lifestyle
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It's safest to buy with the head, and not the heart
That new car smell can be intoxicating and adds to the excitement of selecting your next ride — but don’t be seduced by what’s shiny and new, focus on the fundamentals.
Your lifestyle needs should be the strongest influence when selecting your next vehicle, rather than how it looks or feels.
Take Kent, for example. Our imaginary friend originally comes from a farming background where he grew up driving utes. He has an emotional connection with this type of vehicle. He’s had a lot of firsts behind the wheel of a ute, from learning to drive to first dates.
Kent left the rural life and became an investment banker in the city. He lives in a downtown apartment and, after four years of hard work and sacrifice, he finally has the promotion he deserves. As a reward to himself, he’s looking to buy a new car, but having an apartment on the sixth floor with no off-street parking isn’t ideal. And, though his love of utes keeps playing in the back of his mind, he knows this isn’t really the right choice of vehicle for his lifestyle — much as he hates to admit it.
Like Kent and others in the market for buying a new car, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you buy what you truly need.
This first step to making the right choice is identifying your needs and the demands of your lifestyle. If, like Kent, you live in an apartment with no off-street parking, buying a large vehicle is likely to be out of the question due to the accessibility of parking. If you’re looking for a car that’s more suited to occasional weekends away, for visiting the family or taking a road trip, perhaps you’d benefit from something that makes the drive more enjoyable. A car that’s a quiet ride, has good transmission and the added benefit of cruise control may be a wiser choice.
Getting your head around your finances to establish what you can afford is also crucial. Juggling your finances to realise you can just about afford your dream car isn’t enough. You need to bear in mind the maintenance and running costs that come with the car, as well as its initial price tag.
For example, European cars generally come with higher costs for maintenance and repairs and if you buy a high value car it’s more than likely to push your insurance premium upwards.
Also consider the engine size, as the larger the engine, the less efficient it will be on fuel.
Once, you’ve outlined your needs alongside your budget, you can start to narrow your choices of car. Visiting dealerships and searching for private sellers on the internet will make you aware of what’s available in the current market within your price range. If you’re looking at a private sale, always look at other online advertisements for the same car to make sure you’re not being ripped off.
We always recommend taking a car for a decent test drive before you decide to buy it. Try to get on to the motorway during your test drive, because what may look good might not necessarily feel good to drive. And, the more you test drive, the more you’ll be of aware what you like and dislike.
Though we don’t want to suck the excitement out of buying a new car, it’s important that you don’t let it cloud your judgement or influence you into making rushed decisions. A new car isn’t a cheap purchase and you’ll reap the rewards of investing the necessary time and research upfront. Otherwise you could be scouring the market for a new car again sooner than you think.