Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Family car buying tips

Choosing a family car is a tricky business
– besides accommodating your children’s needs, it has to be affordable and safe.

Bearing all this in mind, here’s a list of things to consider when buying a family car:

Child-friendly car features
Below are a number of handy family car features.
They’re by no means must-haves, but they’re worth taking into account:

Big boot
– check it’s large enough. Remember, not all buggies fit all boots. You might also have a pet that you transport, and for that you’ll need a hatchback.

Wide-opening doors
– five are better than three when it comes to doors, and so are those that open wide, if you’ll be popping children in and out of car seats. Alternatively, go for sliding rear doors.

Raised and sliding rear seating
– these give children a good outside view, which you’ll be grateful for if they’re prone to car sickness, as looking at the horizon can lessen the associated nausea. Also, if the seats slide forward and back you can increase the boot or leg room.

Plentiful seating
if you’ve got at least three children, go for an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) or people carrier. They come with rear fold-away seats, which is useful for when you have to drive the kids and their friends around.

Dark interior
– if you don’t want to see little fingerprints all over your car’s interior, ensure the upholstery is dark or go for wipeable leather.

Isofix fittings
– these mounting points make using compatible car seats easier and safer.

Good storage
– having ample space to store toys, activities, snacks and drinks creates a clutter-free car.

Integrated sun blinds or UV-filtering tinted rear windows
– great for limiting children's sun exposure, although you can fit your own shades.

Built-in DVD player
– very handy and can keep kids entertained for a long time. If the car has a power socket you can fit one yourself, although we’d recommend it is fitted by a professional.

12V power sockets
– so useful for charging DVD players, games consoles, MP3 players, mobile phones and sat navs.

Running expenses
Drivers spend an average £3,000 per year on running a vehicle, according to a 2011 Sainsbury’s Car Insurance survey. But you can significantly reduce your car’s annual expenses just by choosing the right vehicle.

Here’s how:

Go for a fuel-efficient car 
– vehicles with small engines that produce low CO2 emissions guzzle less fuel. But to find out exactly
how fuel-efficient a vehicle is, check out an MPG (miles per gallon) calculator. You’ll find one at

Get cheap tax
– road tax isn’t just one price for all. If, for example, you drive a Band M car – the highest road tax band – expect to pay £1,000 for the first year and then £460 per annum after that. But if you own a Band A car, you’ll pay nothing at all – ever. Visit for a list of the cheapest vehicles to tax.

Buy a cheap car with an anti-theft device
– with the average cost of comprehensive car insurance standing at £835 per annum, according to Watson Car Insurance Price Index, it’s worth choosing a vehicle that’s economical to insure. If your car has an approved alarm, immobiliser or tracking device you can receive a 5% discount on your insurance, so get an anti-theft device. Get a quote before you buy a car, as car insurance costs may influence your decision.

Some cars are safer than others due to the protection they offer.
To find out how safe your car is, visit for a rating based on crash tests.
In addition, look out for safety features that could help you avoid an accident, such as front-mounted cameras to help drivers see around blind corners.

Tara Nathanson writes for Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog on a range of topics including car insurance, car safety and other motoring topics. In her spare time she likes going to the cinema and doing yoga and Zumba classes, and at weekends she likes hanging out with her six-year-old son.

Disclosure: This is a guest post brought to you as part of the Sainbury's Bank Family Blogger Network. No payment or disbursement has been received.

1 comment:

  1. That's a really useful article with loads of great tips. Good idea about choosing a dark interior - dark leather would probably be the best as it's wipeable, as we've found is essential with our two little 'ens!


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