This is simply the truest saying there ever was. We rely on cars so heavily that even if we could walk to the shops nearby to get that vegetable which we forgot for the roast dinner; we would rather drive than walk. Simple little tasks would be made so difficult if we didn’t have a car. However, the one thing that every driver seems to moan about is the cost of running a car; which is really high. You’ve got things like repairs, insurance, fuel etc. and by the end of the month, you might have come to the realisation that the amount you’ve paid to run your car could have gotten you an extremely fancy meal out. But, we certainly can’t live without cars and so, we pump all our money into them in hope that they’ll carry on running for us. Since we can’t live without them, here’s what you can do to improve how you live with owning a car.
Cut Some Costs
It’s no secret that owning a car is just one big money drainer, so let’s start with one of the biggest issues, fuel. Now, there’s nothing you can do to change the price of the fuel you’re putting in, but there are ways to conserve it. Always keeping to the speed limit and always driving economically is one. Only taking the journeys you really need to make is another. If the shop that you need to go to is literally right down the road for you, you don’t need to drive! Insurance has to be the second biggest pain in the bum. It can either be one big payout, or spread across the months of the year. The first is the better option. It gets it out of the way and the premium is certainly cheaper. If you want to make it even cheaper, keeping a clean license record will help to reduce the premium over time as well.
Fix The Problems
Some cars are just destined to break. Whatever you do, don’t ignore a problem. No matter how bad the cost is, it’ll only get worse as time goes on. Take it to an auto repair center, and see how much it is going to cost to get the problem fixed. A lot of people assume it’s going to cost hundreds, which is why they don’t bother taking it into the garage. Don’t get us wrong, some fixes will be in the hundreds, but others are so simple it will hardly cost you anything!
Find The Right Car For You
If you’re going to live with cars, then you need to make sure you’ve got the right car for you. Some cars just don’t suit some people’s finances and needs. For example, if you’ve got a family; a SUV or MPV might suit you more than say a sports car. If you’re a young adult, then something cheap like a simple hatchback is going to cost you less than something more flashy. Be smart and make the right decisions!
Buying a new car is a substantial financial commitment. After getting a house, a car is the next most significant purchase that most of us will make. Whether we are saving up to make that investment, committing to a financing deal, or even leasing a new model; a lot of consideration is needed before making the tough decision.
As a new car is an asset that depreciates quickly, it is important to try and future-proof our choices. Sure, that sporty little coupe may be a great idea for now, but what are your plans for the future? Will it still be suitable in five years’ time when you have a family? How long do you intend to keep the vehicle and what changes are likely to happen within that time frame? You will also need to consider the practical uses of the car.
Below are some thoughts to help you get started.
1. Decide On Your Requirements
When you’re making such an extravagant purchase, it’s quite easy to get carried away especially when you enter the dazzling showrooms with persuasive sales assistants. Coupled with the glossy brochures, it’s hard to resist the lure of the latest model. However, it could be a big financial mistake if you don’t carefully consider what your needs from the vehicle actually are. Functionality always needs to be the primary consideration for your purchase. First of all, think of how many passengers you may need to carry – is it just you commuting, or do you have a family situation where you may need to transport kids? Consider the conditions where you live – are ice and snow likely, or are the winters generally milder? Do you need an all-wheel drive? What sort of surfaces are you covering – off the road or paved surfaces – or minor roads in less good repair? How important is fuel economy to you? If you regularly cover long distances, you may need to prioritise this over other factors? Consider the car’s safety features too, especially if you’re likely to be driving young children. How much space for equipment and cargo do you need? And also, how much space for parking is available where you live?
2. Select Your Budget
Although it would be nice not to have to think of money, it does play a huge factor in determining the best vehicle for you. You don’t want to set your heart on a car based on other factors and then realise that the financing is way out of your reach. If you’re paying cash or from savings, you have a hard limit. But if you’re relying on taking financing out for your purchase, you need to be realistic about the deposit and monthly payments you can afford. As a general rule, no more than 20 percent of your disposable income should be going on a car payment each month. It may be a good idea to check your credit rating before applying for finance – your credit score can affect the rates you get offered, which in turn will impact what you can afford. Think about what you could do to reduce the upfront price – for example, could you time your purchase for just before a plate change, when current-year-old-plate models are reduced? Could you look at manufacturer approved used cars of 2 years old or less? Or could you see if your local showroom is planning to sell off ex-demonstrator models or has any upcoming promotions on the purchase price? All of this can really help to cut the cost – register your interest with the dealership early to be alerted to any offers. Some websites will help you go in armed with the latest information by letting you see the average price paid for the make and model you’re looking out. Remember it is possible to negotiate even on a new car sale – try to time this towards the end of the month when sales assistants may be more desperate to hit their sales target.
3. To Lease or To Buy?
If you are financing the purchase, you need to decide what route to go down with the money, as there are usually several schemes open. Look at the various APR rates offered by the dealership, and compare them to a loan you may be able to get from your bank, in case this would cost you less overall. If you do decide to go with dealer financing, there are two main options – buying, or leasing. Each has their separate pros and cons, so you need to choose which is right for your personal circumstances. If you don’t have much cash available for a deposit, leasing requires a much smaller upfront payment than a purchase agreement. There are also lower monthly payments, but you will not own the vehicle at the end of the arrangement, and you will have to agree to a ‘reasonable usage and wear and tear’ clause that may not be suitable if you do a lot of mileage. However, with depreciation taken into account, sometimes leasing is the best option. Buying the car is more expensive initially, but if you believe you will be able to achieve a good resale value, it could be the better option. Are no-trade-in and hassle-free swaps your style? Or do you need more flexibility to sell the car as and when you need and have control over what modifications to make to the vehicle?
4. Consider Similar Vehicles
You may have set your heart on that Subaru WRX or the BMW X5 but setting your heart on a specific model is not the best idea. The marketplace changes all the time with new models arriving, so the perfect vehicle for you may be just about to launch. Find comparisons of vehicles in the same class as the one you’ve got your eye on to make sure you are getting the best deal for your needs. Compare the features, specifications, and pricing of each model or look at new car buying guides if you’re not sure where to begin.
5. Find Out the True Cost of Ownership
A little internet research at the pre-purchasing stage could save you a lot of headaches further down the line. For example, did you know that some cars which are cheaper to purchase initially could end up costing more later on? Maintenance costs and average depreciation all need to be factored into your decision. Before committing, make sure you have an idea of the cost of ownership of your new vehicle. Car insurance and fuel costs are also an issue to be considered. Making a clever decision here could actually save you thousands.
6. Scope Out The Market
You don’t have to go to dealerships to find out this information anymore. Most dealers now offer a list of inventory via their website so that will help you to get a picture of what models and options are in stock before you go down. It may be worth travelling further if a particular dealership has an offer running on the model you want.
7. Set Up A Test Drive
A lot of things can change on a test drive. The vehicle you thought was perfect for you can turn out to have features you don’t like or handling that you don’t prefer – and if you’re comparing two or three similar models – like the Mercedes GLA vs. Audi Q3, for example, sometimes after driving them gives you a clearer pictures of which is a winner. Call or email your local dealership to schedule a test drive, and if you can drive all the models on your shortlist on the same day, it saves you a lot of time. Making an appointment is much better than just turning up ad-hoc, as you are sure the car is prepped and waiting for you. Before you go, take a look at some walk-around videos of the model you’re interested in and make sure to go through all your notes on pricing and features so that you can check details with the salesperson on the day. The best test drives allow you to put the vehicle through its paces exactly as you would in your
daily use – so don’t be afraid to specify if there’s a particular condition you’d like to test the vehicle in. If you’re commuting, try to test the vehicle out in both slow-moving congestion and faster paces. Get in and out of the car several times and if you’re planning on carrying passengers, don’t forget to sit in the back and see what its like there. Check the cargo space and ease of loading, and if you use a child seat, bring it along to test how easy it is to fit and remove.
8. Making a Final Decision
Don’t be afraid to request another test drive if you feel you need it. If a salesperson is distracting you with their chatter, you can request to come again. It’s only right that you be allowed to focus on evaluating the driving experience for such a big purchase. There could be several good choices, so you’d be wise to sleep on any major decisions and not feel pressured into signing up for anything too quickly. Your decision should be made to last!
Know of any other tips or tricks to look out for when buying a car? Share them with us by commenting below!