Choosing a family car can sometimes be a nightmare. It can often feel like there are too many options and nowhere near enough advice to simplify the choice. Below are four of the most asked questions, with some handy answers and tips to make the search for your perfect family car that little bit easier.
Which Class of car is best for me?
So the first decision you need to be making is, what car will suit my family’s needs? Where you live will prove one of the best ways to answer this question. If you’re based in a more rural area maybe consider an SUV. You will need a vehicle which will be able to tackle adverse weather conditions, preferably one that won’t leave you stranded in ice with very cold and very miserable children. The same question applies for city dwellers, an SUV or MPV may be too large and cumbersome to park in small city spaces, think on road parking. Try an estate or saloon, a car which is easy enough to park into most spaces, eradicating the continual laps of the supermarket car park on a Saturday afternoon.
It sounds like a rather small and insignificant detail, but opt for dark coloured interiors. There is no task as hard as scrubbing Ribena and mushed strawberries, out of cream carpeted interiors. Leather is an even better option if it is available; never underestimate the calming effect of a wipe clean surface.
Now you may not have considered doors as an issue, but now think about trying to fit car seats through said doors? Sliding doors are incredibly handy for trying to control a bigger brood in a car park, no worries of denting nearby vehicles and lots of extra space, to manoeuvre children into the car. However these doors are normally found on SUV’s and MPV’s, if you’re looking for a smaller vehicle test how wide the door opens, always take your car seat with you to any test drive and try fitting it in the car. Remember, there is no worse feeling than seeing your brand new cars paint work on your brand new baby seat.
Is My Baby Seat Right?
Car safety seat law is long and at times complicated, and most certainly something you never thought about before your family grew. However now you’re faced with heights and weights, rear facing and front facing, isofix and non isofix, it all seems like a lot of choice; however there are a few things that can help.
If you’re expecting I would heavily advise making sure whichever car you purchase has isofix anchors as standard. Therefore no matter what safety seat you opt for you are prepared for all eventualities. If you have any worries about fitting safety seats yourself, Halfords offer a fantastic service where they will fit the seats for you, and all for free.
Make sure the car you purchase has the ability to turn off the passenger air bag. In most vehicles this can be enabled by either a switch or a key. This eliminates an expensive trip to the manufacturers if you need to place a rear facing car seat in the passenger seat at any time.
Always take your safety seats to test drives with you, this is especially important if you have more than one. Make sure the seats are easy to secure and fit comfortably inside the car. It’s a fantastic chance to check the size of the vehicle out, as well as testing if your bad back will handle the height of the vehicle and the weight of a baby seat.
How Much Space Do I Need?
Your main space concern may be how many children can I squeeze inside but children come with baggage, and unfortunately that’s needs squeezing in too.
The more leg room across the back seats makes it easier to fit child seats. Also check space saving compartments in the back of the car. They make it easy to store books, toys and other items to distract the children from the inevitable ‘are we there yet’ question.
Boot size is incredibly important, it’s not just buggies that need to fit in the back, but nappy bags, book bags, sports bags, lunch bags to name a few. Estate cars are the best choice for offering huge amounts of boot space. When going on a test drive ask to try your buggy in the boot, this will be your biggest item, therefore you can judge how much space you have left for other child paraphernalia.
How Do I Check How Safe a Car Is?
Naturally you’re worried about the safety of your children. The best way to check how safe a car is would be to check the Euro NACP test results. These are readily available online with detailed descriptions of the outcome of all assessments carried out on each vehicle.
The Euro NACP carry out various assessments to test child safety, adult safety and pedestrian safety. Each vehicle is rated on a percentage and given a star rating. The website is fantastic for comparing choices within different classes of vehicle and also gives you a good idea of the kind of safety technology each vehicle employs.
It’s the little things that you would expect to come as standard that need checking, especially when you are buying a used car. Does the vehicle have anti-lock brakes, are there child locks? The thought of a four year old making an escape at a traffic light is one that is both haunting and sleep depriving. Make sure you check all the small things, and don’t worry if you feel your being over the top, at the end of the day it’s the safety of your family which is at stake.
Ashleigh-Rose Harman writes on behalf of Tilsun Group, a contract hire and leasing company who provide a wide range of Euro NACP tested family car leases, suitable for all families, big and small.