Choosing a car and navigating the dealership in six easy steps.
When you’re a new mom, the wise proverb “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” becomes a sacred mantra. If you had time, you’d probably make a cross-stitch of it, but, of course, you don’t actually have time for hobbies. While you’re trying to juggle school, work and shuttling your children from Point A to Point B, picking out a new car can seem like it’s not important enough to spend much time on. After all, you just need the kids to fit, right?
Wrong, of course, because nothing about being a mom is simple. Go through our easy guide to help you pick out that new ride, even if you’re trying to get gum out of Aiden’s hair while you keep little Braeden from jumping into puddles.
If you’re looking at regularly hauling fewer than three kids, you may want to look at a subcompact, compact or a crossover. These tend to seat 4 people comfortably, and 5 people if everyone squishes in a little. If you just have two kids and don’t expect to be the driver for the T-Ball team, it’s better to save on money and the operating costs and get a smaller vehicle.
Of course, if you have more kids or your kids are especially social, you may find yourself needing more seats. Minivans are usually cheaper to own than SUVs, and they give you a good amount of seating and storage options. They’re the stereotypical mommy vehicles for a reason, after all. If your family lives in an especially snowy and/or mountainous area, think about investing in an SUV. These are more expensive to purchase, own and operate, though, so only look into them if you can really get some use out of the 4-wheel drive capabilities.
Even if you don’t have a small football team of children you need to take with you everywhere, you still may find yourself needing more storage room than a subcompact car has. If you tend to pack heavy and buy groceries in bulk, or, God forbid, if you’re a couponer, you’re going to want a lot more trunk space. Don’t immediately discount your standard 4-door sedans. These tend to have large, roomy trunks that are great for gaggles of groceries or luggage. If you’re hauling around sports equipment or other inflexible, bulky gear, you may need to test to see if it will fit into the flatter volume the sedan’s trunk will offer you. If it doesn’t work, you may need to upgrade to a hatchback, an SUV or a crossover.
Want to teach your kids to value the planet? Look into crossovers, subcompact and compact cars. These are all typically cheaper to own and come with the fuel efficiency you need to save yourself from the Captain Planet speeches once your kids are old enough to learn about global warming. SUVs and trucks are the biggest gas hogs, but you can get a little more mileage out of a minivan without sacrificing storage. Look for vehicles that are two-wheel-drive to save you money at the pump and money on repairs.
Once you’ve picked out the vehicle that’s right for you, it’s time to head to the dealership. Keep these six tips in mind to make your visit easier:
- Don’t bring the kids if you can help it. They’ll fall in love with a car because of the color, or how shiny it is, and you’ll have to talk them into a less exciting, more practical vehicle.
- Don’t get emotionally attached to a car. The moment you can see yourself driving the kids around in a car is the moment the salesperson knows they can sell you the car for more money.
- Check the tires. It seems like a small deal, because they can be replaced, but that could add $400 or more to the price of the vehicle.
- Examine the car, even if you’re not a mechanic. You can still spot worn-out hoses, fraying wires or a corroded battery.
- Test drive the car at a variety of speeds. Does it stutter in stop and go traffic, or start to sputter at high speeds?
- Don’t buy a car that doesn’t have a verified clean title.
Remember, the most important thing about a vehicle is that it fills your needs and is dependable enough to get you and your kids to where you need to be. Being a new mom is hard enough without adding the stress of a bad vehicle!