These days, owning a safe and reliable vehicle is necessary for most families. Americans say they spend an average of 87 minutes a day in their cars, and between school drop offs, appointments, and shopping trips, it can seem impossible to find the time, let alone the budget, to invest in a vehicle you truly trust for your entire family. However, there are several steps you can take to maximize both the safety and cost-efficiency of your next family vehicle. Here are just a few smart ideas to keep in mind to get the safest car possible at a cost that’s well within your price range.
Before you visit a dealership, you should set reasonable limits that are within your budget and will still meet your family’s needs. For example, for online searches, experts say to set the maximum cost for about $1,000 higher than your actual budget, simply because you may be able to haggle with sellers and stay within your price range. As far as mileage, lower is obviously ideal, but it can be wise to set a maximum of about 150,000 miles and increase only if necessary.
Know What To Avoid
Before you get too attached to the idea of any particular vehicle make or model, you should be aware that European cars tend to be some of the most costly when it comes to repairs and general maintenance. Similarly, although many families find SUVs the best suited for their busy lifestyles, they aren’t particularly ideal for low-end budgets. It’s also best to avoid buying a vehicle that has a salvage title; even though it most likely runs fine and has been fully restored, it’ll almost definitely be hard to resell in the future.
Accept Minor Visual Flaws
About 6 million people are behind on their car payments by 90 days or more, so most experts agree that it’s smart to try to get a discount by considering choosing a vehicle that has minor exterior flaws that don’t affect functionality. These flaws can include paint chips, minor scratches, and other perfections. These vehicles are typically priced lower, and they can provide everything their visually perfect counterparts can.
Finally, when you have a general idea of the vehicle you’re looking for and are ready to visit a dealership, make sure to inspect all vehicles you’re considering as thoroughly as you can. This means both an external and internal inspection, and it also includes the tires, which can be costly to replace. It’s also a good idea to have a mechanic look at any vehicles you’re highly considering.
“Expect the shop to recommend a long list of repairs both to avoid liability and perhaps drum up business. You might be able to use some of the repair recommendations as leverage with the seller when negotiating,” writes Phillip Reed on USAToday.
In 2014, 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes, down 0.7% from 32,894 in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Studies also suggest that a 0.62 mph (or 1 km/h) decrease in driving speed can lead to anywhere between a 2–3% reduction in road crashes. While driving slower might help bring down the number of accidents, vehicles are becoming safer than ever before. Understanding how to find a reliable car that’s within your budget is the key to keeping overall transportation costs down while keeping your family safe.
For more car buying tips, view my post “5 Tips for Buying a Car for Less.” -Lisa