Choosing a family car: How to buy well with safety and practicality in mind

Looking to buy a new family car? In this article Mark Barclay from GSF Car Parts shares his top tips for choosing a safe and reliable vehicle that the whole family will love. 

If you’re worried about making a decision on your next family car, you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of car buyers worry that they haven’t chosen the right vehicle at the end of the process, with 85% believing that the final car they chose wasn’t actually the perfect one for them. 

It’s easy to see why there is so much uncertainty around the car buying process. After all, it’s likely one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your life. But this doesn’t mean it has to be a difficult or stressful process. If you do your research and decide on your top priorities beforehand, you should be able to find a car that both you and your family will love. 

Trethowans
Trethowans

To help you narrow down your search and figure out what exactly you’re looking for, here are some tips for choosing a safe and practical family-friendly car. 

Decide on an ideal size 

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a car is space, both in terms of comfort and practicality. It’s important to choose a vehicle that has enough space not just for the passengers you have now, but for any future additions to the family. And of course, you’ll need to factor in storage space too, especially if you use your car for long trips or outdoor adventures which require a lot of gear. 

While you might be tempted to go for a very large vehicle with plenty of excess space, this isn’t always the best option either. Larger cars with larger engines are more expensive to fuel, so while that extra space may be nice, it isn’t always the most economical option. Plus, you may struggle to fit a particularly large vehicle on your driveway. 

So, when it comes to finding the right size, balance is key. If you think you’ve found the perfect car but it’s just a bit too small for those weekend adventures, remember that you can add extra storage space by installing both a bike rack and roof bars for a storage box. 

Have a list of non-negotiable safety features 

When choosing a family car, safety is no doubt your top priority. While you can normally compromise on aspects such as colour, style, price, and even space, there are a number of safety features which you will want to have as non-negotiables. Here are some key safety features to look out for when making your purchase:

  • High speed alert: This alert lets you know when you’re breaking the speed limit to help protect both your family and other road users. 
  • Electronic stability control: This crash avoidance technology has been a feature on all new cars since 2014. The technology assists the driver when it senses that the car is veering off track or is being over and understeered. 
  • Smart seatbelt reminder: This technology sets off an alarm when all passengers don’t have their seatbelts on or haven’t fitted them correctly. 
  • Active head restraints: These come into action in rear-end crashes, as the impact automatically adjusts the headrest to reduce the risk of neck injury.

Consider the happiness of the whole family

There’s nothing worse than a long drive ahead with a backseat full of unhappy passengers! To keep the whole family happy on the road, it’s important to opt for a comfortable car. Make sure that your passengers have plenty of leg room to stretch out, and always check whether your child’s car seat fits well without cramping the rest of the backseat passengers. 

You should also make sure the seats at both the front and back of the car are comfortable. You can even push the boat out and opt for seats that can heat and cool to make the journey comfortable whatever the weather. 

And to prevent the chorus of “are we there yet?” from the backseat, make sure that there is plenty in the car to keep the family entertained too. Choose a car with a top-quality stereo with Bluetooth, so you can take turns blasting your favourite road trip music. And to keep you connected, choose a car that comes with a Wi-Fi hot spot. These often come with car upgrade bundles, so make sure to ask your car dealer for more information on this. 

Prioritise reliability 

If you don’t want to be spending a fortune on repairs in a year’s time, or even sooner, it’s important to choose a reliable vehicle. Not only can non-reliable vehicles disrupt your day by breaking down at the most inconvenient times, but they can be incredibly dangerous too, especially if a breakdown happens on a busy motorway.

So, to keep your family (and your bank balance) safe, make sure to spend plenty of time researching the reliability of your potential new car. If you’re opting for a used car, make sure to look into the history of the vehicle. If it has needed a lot of work in the past, it’s best to steer clear of it.

And if you’re opting for a new model, make sure to check out reviews of the make and model on What Car? and Autocar to get a good idea of the quality of the vehicle. And remember to always give the car at least one test drive before making your purchase, as this gives you a chance to test the reliability of the car first-hand.

Buying a family car can seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Use the tips above to make the car buying process easier, and you’ll find your dream car in no time.   

Photo by Tim Mossholder