How do you find the car that best suits your needs?


Before you start the hunt for your dream car you must decide on a few factors. Here are our top 10 tips writes Geraldine Herbert

1. Settle On a Budget and stick to it!
2. Research: Information is power so look online at your options and see what’s out there, decide what you want and have a look at what’s on offer within your budget.
3. Draw up a buying shortlist: You may love the sleek look of a sports coupe, but is it really practical for a family of four? If you commute, you’ll need something economical but if you regularly take long trips you’ll need a car with a larger engine. Pick out cars that offer a blend of talents to meet your needs. Keep an open mind, as your opinion may change after a few test drives.
4. Brake horsepower, torque, and engine size: That instant surge of power felt when stepping on the car accelerator is a measure of the brake horsepower (bhp) and torque on offer.
Horsepower determines how fast a car can travel but the amount of torque determines how quickly that speed can be achieved.
In almost all cases, increases in bhp and torque come at the expense of fuel economy so bear this in mind when considering the best engine size.
5. Running costs: Estimate your annual mileage and work out how much it will cost in fuel to run the car. Also consider road tax, how much it will cost to service and finally you must also factor in depreciation
6. New or used: While the security of a new car is very reassuring you will lose a considerable chunk of its value in the first three years so depending on your circumstances a second hand car may be a better option.
7. Petrol or diesel, hybrid or electric? It is often assumed that diesels are more economical to run. But if you drive less than 18,000 kilometres a year and do lots of city driving a diesel is not for you.
Hybrids are good for a mix of urban and motorway driving but electric cars are best suited to short city commutes.
8. What about finance? There are three main options for financing a new car; a personal/car loan, buying on hire purchase or through a personal contract purchase (PCP). Before you decide which is best for you always compare finance deals using the annual percentage rate (APR) and the total amount repayable. Never rely on the ‘flat rate’ interest that is quoted
9. Safety: Driving is not without risk and there is no such thing as a perfectly safe car. However, some cars can protect you and your passengers better in the event of an accident.
The Euro NCAP (‘New Car Assessment Programme’) is the organisation that tests new cars for safety and they publish the results of each of these tests on their website.
Taking the standard safety equipment available on the car, the independent body puts it through a series of tests, including front and side impact, whiplash, adult occupant protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist.
10. Test Drive: A test drive needn’t be five minutes, ask to borrow a car for an evening or a weekend so you can get familiar with it, without the pressure of a salesman in the passenger seat.

Geraldine Herbert

3rd July, 2015


Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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