Buying your first car for the family – what you need to know

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
Our authors
, updated on November 25th, 2021       

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are now 568 cars per 1,000 people. That seems like a high number, but what about the people whom you will be driving around? When you’re buying a car not just for you, but for your partner and your children, you have to think about it in a completely different way. Your car isn’t just a single purpose commuter machine any more – it’s many things to many people. It may even be a hand-me-down one day! So getting it right may be a long and often frustrating process, but worth it in the end. Here’s what you have to know before you buy your family’s first car.

Will your car work for your family long-term

One question you must ask before narrowing down car choices is if the car you’re buying will work for you now and into the future. You may have one child on the way right now, for example. What will your family look like a year from now? Three years from now? Chances are you may be using your car for an average of 10 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. A smaller sedan might work for the short-term but a larger car such as a people-mover or station wagon. You may want to consider a car with a bit of grunt if you take long trips or are looking to buy a caravan.

Second-hand or new

The next bone of contention in discussions about buying a car is if you’ll buy second-hand or new. New cars have a high initial cost and depreciate rapidly. Even so, newer cars are more reliable and have newer safety features (as you’ll read about below.) You can buy relatively new second-hand cars, such as certified used cars, which have low kms and are only about three or so years old. Older cars may not have ISOFIX mounts for baby or booster seats, which you must also think about.


Every new car in Australia is fitted with airbags, although the absolute minimum is six. Other airbags such as curtain, side or knee airbags can dramatically reduce the chance of injury, especially in children. The more is of course the better.

Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning

Almost 840,000 accidents in the US occur due to drivers not seeing other vehicles in their blind spots. The likelihood of crashes is just as high in Australia. Blind Spot and Lane Departure detection helps you “see” cars without seeing them yourself and can reduce the chance of crashing when moving lanes.

Stability control and Auto Emergency Brakes

Auto Emergency Brakes (AEB) are new standard features in Australian vehicles, and apply your brakes if you are at risk of colliding with a car in front of you. Stability control helps you slowdown in slippery situations such as wet roads or sharp corners. It’s helpful when teaching your kids how to drive, too.

Electronic Safety Features & Satellite Navigation

Electronic Safety Features such as reversing cameras are necessary for a family with small children – coupled with proximity sensors it helps you avoid any potential accidents. Satellite navigation isn’t for the kids, but it will get you where you’re going without much fuss.

Gadgets to Keep The Kids Happy

With newer cars coming with DVD players and screens in back seats or chargers for iPads or tablets, you can keep the kids entertained on long trips. Some new cars integrate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy control.

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