Buying a car, whether it be new or second hand, is an exciting step which involves plenty of forethought. Unfortunately, aspiration and fantasy can blur our judgement, and as a result we can purchase something that is simply wrong for our lifestyle.
Far too often people buy cars that end up being impractical or beyond their budget. If you're looking to buy a vehicle, make sure you assess its versatility and long-term costs to save you time and money.
Can you afford a prestige vehicle?
So you've managed to save enough for the asking price of a shiny new car. Have you taken into account the vehicle's on-road costs, depreciation and price of ongoing servicing? Imported luxury cars will most likely require more expensive parts including tyres, batteries and electrics. It's easy to be seduced by the price only to find the extras you desire aren't included and the cost escalates quickly.
If there's a particular vehicle you're fond of, make sure you thoroughly search its market competitors, as you may just find a better deal and more suitable option for your immediate and long-term budget.
The same applies for classic vehicles that may have once been reliable, but are now one repair away from being a money pit.
Do you really need an SUV or 4WD?
The popularity of SUVs has risen substantially over the past few years. They provide flexibility and are great for young families, however they can also be overpriced and unnecessary when more economical options cover similar bases.
Buyers should think twice about an SUV purchase, especially when it's a 4WD as running costs can become a burden. There are other vehicles on the market that appear smaller but have a similar luggage capacity, allow forchild restraints and have a larger capacity engine.
If you're in the market for a new car, be aware that dealers will try and pawn different optional extras that may not be applicable for you. Be wary of extras such as paint protection, interior guards and tyre upgrades.
Should you modify?
Many vehicles, notably performance cars, are tempting to upgrade via way of after-market modifications. These cars will get added power and handling through extractors, larger exhaust systems, turbo tuning and lowered suspension.
The problem with making these changes is what it does to the car's resale value, and it's important to note that any modifications outside of the manufacturers OEM specs will also be required to pass an engineering signatories inspection and report.
This also includes any aftermarket turbo/supercharging, mods to the suspension outside of the RMS guidlines.
Potential buyers may also give you a wide birth as they're unsure how the car's been treated and who performed the modifications.
What engine do you need?
Engine capacity is about more than speed. Cars with larger engines may indeed go faster, but they will also be far thirstier, while smaller engines may save on petrol but be sluggish when the vehicle is full.
To decide what sided engine is right for you, assess how big the vehicle is, what it'll be used for and where it'll be driven. City drivers may have little need for a larger engine, while those using an SUV to tow or carry large loads will find less isn't more under the hood.
Remember, there is a smorgasbord of cars on the market, so make sure you investigate the pros and cons of each before buying something that will put you in debt for a long time.