What You Need to Know About Car Buying as a Parent

The days of buying a car for looks or speed are behind you now. You’re a parent. As such, you need to think about your family when making the ever-important decision of buying a new vehicle.

You’ll have to plan ahead and do your best to imagine all possible challenges this new car will help you meet. Is it carpooling? Football practices complete with gear? Another child in the family? Think about everything that could be and imagine the car that will be up for the challenge.

Here are a few things you should know about car buying as a parent:

  1. You’re going to put safety first – In the old days, you may have opted for luxury add-ons over standard safety features. With kids, these priorities are reversed. Before you buy a new car, you’ll want to research the NHTSA and IIHS crash safety ratings. When you become a parent, things like blind spot warning sensors and adaptive cruise control become much more important than leather seats and titanium trim. Let’s face it, the kids are going to smoosh snacks into those leather seats anyway.
  2. You’ll start thinking about having more kids – Unless you’ve already made a final decision on the size of your troop, you’ll want to think about whether more kids are a possibility. You don’t have to decide for certain before you buy a new car, but you should have a general idea. If you have one child and no plans for more, you could be okay with a mid-sized sedan. On the other hand, if you’re planning two or three more children, you’ll probably want to upgrade to an SUV or minivan.
  3. You’ll give more consideration to road conditions – Since the safety of your family is top priority, you’ll consider inclement weather before you buy any vehicle. If you live somewhere like New York, Colorado, or North Dakota, you’ll probably want to consider a vehicle with 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. If you live in the desert or any area with lots of gravel roads, you may want a truck or SUV with good ground clearance.
  4. Family fun activities become part of the consideration – Depending on what you and your family enjoy doing, the type of vehicle you ultimately purchase should represent your interests. Like to go camping with the family in the great outdoors? Then a hybrid sedan probably isn’t the best for you. Love flitting around the city and enjoying the hustle and bustle of life passing you by? Probably won’t enjoy finding parking for a large truck. Really think about where this car will be going before you make that ultimate decision.
  5. Try not to break the bank – Other than a house and a college savings account, the car is probably one of the bigger purchases that you’ll have to make for your family. But that doesn’t mean that you have to go WAY over budget with it. Many dealerships offer different buying incentives for different cars. Also, there’s always the possibility of a lightly-used car. Many people fear purchasing used cars because they worry that safety features may have been previously damaged or outright missing. Nowadays, there are many tools to help you determine if a used car can be safe enough to transport you and the loved ones.

Now that you’re a parent, you may have to put aside the love of speedy coupes (unless your significant other really enjoys the look and feel of a mini-van) But just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to grit your teeth behind the wheel for the next 20-odd years. Use these techniques to find something that can make you happy and be a useful resource for the whole family.