6 tips for buying your first family car

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, updated on August 4th, 2023       

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Family car buying tips

When it comes to buying your first family car, it helps to think about it as a new family member. A super helpful member, of course! Your family car will be as part of the family as your new baby or your pets. There are several “golden rules” for buying your first family car, making sure you don’t trip up on the essentials. Here’s our six golden rules for purchasing a first family car to help you out.

Get what you need first

The golden rule for buying your first family car? Setting a strict budget with a list of features you cannot live without. With baby (or baby number two or three) on the way, your finances will be stretched thin. When looking for new family cars, make a list of your non-negotiable features. Here are a few to get started.

The non-negotiable features

Depending on how big your family will get, a compact car is out: leaving you to choose a medium size car, a sedan, an SUV, or something even larger. According to CarsGuide, the medium size SUV is the popular family choice, shifting near 81,000 units between January-May 2019. 

Storage is a must. If you can’t fit much in the boot, it’s not going to handle the extra nappies, pushers, sports bags, bikes, and other stuff kids need growing up. Cup holders and extra storage bins can also come in handy.

Other non-negotiables are:

  • 5-Star ANCAP Safety rating
  • Child seat anchor points
  • Unobstructed visibility
  • Airbags and ABS
  • Electronic Stability control
  • Child locks

If your prospective car doesn’t have one of these features, cross it off the list.

Good to have features

Some features are great to have in your car – but do you really need them? Satellite navigation and hands-free Bluetooth for calls is extremely handy – but your phone also has Google Maps and a loudspeaker. Why pay thousands for something you already have? Dealer “extras” like conversation mirrors (for talking to kids in the back), reversing cameras, and entertainment tables can be bought and installed after-market – and it’ll save you more, too.

Futureproofing for bub #2 (or 3…)

Though you may have found the car that fits the bill for “right now”, you must consider where your family is headed. For example, if you intend to bring in a few brothers and sisters to your first born, you may want to find a car or SUV with third-row seating. It can also fold down to create extra storage for trips away.

Always test drive

You should always test drive a car in normal operating conditions. That’s right – with kids on board. If the car can’t handle the car seat or if your seven-year old is complaining of not enough leg room, then you know it won’t be good for the family down the track. Get a car loan pre-approval and haggle.

Car buying expert and Savvy CEO Bill Tsouvalas says seeing a loan broker and getting loan pre-approval can help you gain leverage when negotiating a sale. “Loan pre-approval gives you a definite price ceiling – the dealer has to match your price, or you walk away,” he says. “If you approach dealers at the end of the month or offer to take a floor model off their hands, you can save a lot of money. Salespeople need to fulfil quotas, which puts you in the best position to deal.”

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