Three questions to ask before you buy a second car
It’s raining, the family chariot is being serviced and you’ve got a sick child needing to go to the doctor. A new job means your ride to work is now gone, and there’s no public transport alternative. In these and all sorts of other scenarios the solution seems obvious – a second car. But how do you get the right one? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
How much car do you really need?
If a second car is only going to be used as a gap-filling runabout, there’s little need to venture beyond a city or light-sized car.
But now is also the time to think about whether it might be asked to meaningfully step in for the family car or do some other job a baby-sized car might struggle with, such as towing or long drives. Knowing exactly what you need is the only way to avoid driving away in an attractively priced but ill-fitting solution or unnecessary indulgence.
How much can you spend?
Car buying is a compromise and especially on a tight budget.
If you just need that stereotypical runabout, good news – small cars, all things being equal, are cheaper than bigger cars and SUVs.
Translate that to the used market and you don’t need to spend so much to access a recent build date, low mileage or both. That’s a plus if you value safety because newer cars tend to have the advantage.
If you want something bigger, more upmarket or built for a specific need, compromising on age or condition might be your only option.
How much can you spend on upkeep?
Small cars aren’t just cheaper to buy but cheaper to fuel, tyre and insure.
In the new-car realm, most manufacturers offer fixed-price servicing schemes that give you some surety about long-term costs, so comparing different cars is easy.
On the used-car lot, don’t think that every affordable car will also be affordable to maintain.
All things being equal, a bigger car, SUV or prestige vehicle will not just be older than an equivalently priced smaller or mainstream car but costlier to fix. Consider, then, that the bigger, more prestigious car might have exhausted its factory warranty or fixed-price servicing benefits where a similarly priced, smaller rival hasn’t – the extra impact on your hip pocket can be significant.
The basic rule of thumb for a second car is to really think about how you’re going to use the car, how much and where. With so many options, there’s always a way to pick a car to suit your needs.