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5 key things to ask yourself before buying your next car

Our2Cents

From budgeting to choosing a fuel-efficient, safe, and lifestyle-compatible car – here are 5 things to ask yourself before buying a car.

When it's time to buy a car, the options can seem endless; especially when you’re looking online. Making the right choice involves weighing various factors carefully to ensure that your new car meets your needs, budget, and expectations. Here are five key considerations to help guide your decision for your next car purchase.

1. What is my budget?

When you're buying a car, how much you can spend is the most important thing to consider. It's not just the upfront cost you've got to consider. You also need to think about other expenses like insurance, keeping it in good shape, gas, and any fixes it might need down the line. Setting a budget from the start helps you narrow down your choices in a smart way.

Tips for budgeting:

  • Figure out how much free cash you have: Look at how much money you make and what you spend each month to figure out how much you can spend on a car payment
  • Estimate the total cost of owning a car: Remember the cost is not just the purchase price that is just the start. You need to add insurance, maintenance, fuel, and any potential loan interest as well as intermittent costs like servicing and unexpected maintenance
  • Ask yourself if you have money for a deposit: Putting more money down when you buy a car can lower your monthly payments and save you money on interest over time. Try to save up a good chunk of money for the down payment to make things easier on your wallet later on
  • Use an online car loan calculator to understand your monthly repayment: If you need to loan the money to buy the car, use an online car loan calculator to see how changing the loan length and interest rates changes your monthly payments. Try out different options to see what fits your budget best
  • Don’t forget about VAT and other fees that may not be included in the sticker price: These can add a significant amount to your total cost
  • Get a couple of online car insurance quotes to get an idea of what you’ll be paying for insurance.

2. Does the car I want fit in with my lifestyle and daily needs?

Think about your family size, driving habits, and the primary use of the vehicle to make sure it fits your life.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the car big enough for your family or regular driving companions?
  • Will the car fit into my garage or current parking spot?
  • Is boot space important?
  • How much legroom do you need in the back?
  • Are you looking for comfort and luxury, performance and speed or is being environmentally friendly the main thing?
  • Where and how far will you be driving? Will you be driving mainly closer to home, long distances and on highways, or mainly off-road?
  • Is the car mainly for driving to work, road trips, or perhaps a hobby?

3. How fuel efficient and environmentally friendly is the car?

Nowadays, with people caring more about the environment and increasing petrol prices, fuel efficiency is really important. Choosing a more fuel-efficient car can save you a lot of money and is also better for the planet.

Considerations:

  • Is a hybrid or an electric car an option? These can offer great savings and are environmentally friendly.
  • To get a good idea of what it'll cost to run the car, take a look at its fuel efficiency across different driving situations. You can easily find this by visiting the car manufacturer’s website, chatting with the dealership, or diving into online reviews and comparison sites.

4. What safety features are included?

Safety should always come first when you are looking for a new car. Luckily, modern cars are packed with cool safety features to look after you and everyone else in the car.

Safety tips:

  • In South Africa, car safety ratings are primarily influenced by international safety assessment programs since we do not have a local car safety testing program. So check out the Euro NCAP rating on the manufacturer's website and remember that 3 stars and below means below-average crash protection.
  • Don't forget to also look into other safety features that fit what you're looking for. Euro NCAP offers specific ratings for how safe adults and kids are inside the car, how well it protects people outside the car, and other handy safety tech. This info can help you pick the right car for you.
  • Advanced safety features in newer cars: Consider cars with features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings for added safety.

5. Should I buy a new car or could a used car work just as well?

  • Choosing between a new and a used car is an important decision when it comes to deciding on your new car. Each option has its upsides and possible downsides. New cars come with the newest features and peace of mind thanks to warranties, but they're pricier. On the flip side, used cars can save you some cash and still be great, though you'll want to look into their past and how well they've been looked after. It's all about balancing what's most important to you and your wallet.

Making the right choice

  • Do your research. Thoroughly research models and their reliability over time.
  • Inspect and test drive the car. Always inspect and test drive a used car before purchasing.
  • Consider certified pre-owned cars for a balance of new and used benefits.

Picking your next car is all about carefully thinking about your budget, what you need, how it affects the environment, its safety features, and deciding if you want a new or used one. Take a moment to look into your options, weigh them up, and figure out what matters most to you in your new ride.

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