3. What do you actually need the car to do?
Two-seat roadsters are pretty, and they’re usually great fun to drive. But they are absolutely no good at carrying more than one passenger or any reasonable amount of luggage. Therefore splashing out on a sports car is not wise if you need to run three kids around every day. Sounds obvious, I know, but apply the same thinking to every aspect of your driving needs.
If you’re doing a lot of motorway mileage, a diesel engine is very efficient. If you are only using the car at weekends and mainly for local trips, a petrol engine is probably a better choice. Saloons usually have bigger boots, but hatchbacks are more flexible in how their load space can be used. Lowered suspension and big wheels may look great, but if your local roads have lots of speed humps and potholes then your vertebrae and kidneys will be pounded by all the bouncing. Crossovers and SUVs are very popular at the moment, but they can be considerably more expensive to buy and run than the hatchbacks they are based on.
Why is this important?
Don’t rush into buying a car that’s not right for you. If the car you are looking at doesn’t fill all your needs, go find another one. There are plenty of cars for sale (the nation’s largest used car classifieds site has over 480,000 cars for sale as I type this), so you’ll eventually find one that ticks all your boxes.
If the car doesn’t fulfil its key requirements for your life, you’ll end up wanting to get rid of it sooner rather than later. And potentially make the same mistake all over again.
You should also read this:
I bought a car and have now changed my mind…
Unless you are honest with yourself as to why you want a new car, how much you can realistically afford and exactly what sort of car you need, you are highly unlikely to get the right result. And you will only have yourself to blame. So be a smart car buyer and make sure you know exactly what you’re doing any why before you start looking for that new set of wheels.
This article was originally published in July 2015, and was updated and expanded in January 2017.