Purchasing your child’s first car can be a terrifying parenting moment. For a start, they will be at the mercy of the drivers you have criticised on the road for years. And of course, a car means a whole lot more independence for your child, a challenge for any parent. Add in concerns about cost as well and it can be quite a stressful time.
However, if you have decided that you’re going to take the plunge, then there are some sensible steps to take before diving in to buy what will instantly become your child’s most treasured possession. Start off by thinking about what your child actually needs a car for – this will go a long way to determining the kind of model you opt for. Do they need it to take short journeys to school each day? Will they be going on long journeys with friends regularly? Answering these questions will help determine the fuel capacity and size of engine. By the way, less power can be a very good thing for an excitable new driver.
Once you have an idea of the type of car, do your research to find exactly the model that suits. Take a look online at reviews and even inventories of local dealerships. This will allow you to calculate prior to actually meeting a dealer what you want and how much you are prepared to pay.
Which brings us onto finance. 32% of Brits said in a recent survey that they were aiming to make a new car a special expenditure in 2014. It is indeed a significant outlay. Cars are not cheap, especially if you want to buy a brand new model. However, used cars are also increasingly expensive and so you may well need to secure a loan whatever car you choose. As a result, it is very important to check your credit report before approaching a lender. If you have missed or made a late payment on anything, even as innocuous as a mobile phone bill, it may appear on your credit report. Fortunately, you can easily do a credit check by visiting Experian Credit Expert UK, one of the country’s three registered agencies, and take advantage of their 30-day trial service. Deal with any errors on your report before applying for a loan.
There is also an interesting parenting question surrounding payment. Some parents like to give their child a first car as a gift. Others though feel that their child can learn more by contributing to the cost. It can be a good life lesson if they too have had to work for their new car. It may also engender a greater sense of responsibility once they are behind the wheel.
And that sense of responsibility may just be a significant factor in their safety on the road. However, there are plenty of other things you can do to make driving as safe an experience as possible for them. Especially if you are buying a used car, you will want to have a trusted mechanic check the model in question. You can do a cursory check yourself too by looking out for warning signs – doors that are offset, uneven joints and rust are tell-tale signs of potential problems. You can also check the history of a vehicle. The DVLA website itself will allow you to see how old the car is, whether it is taxed and has passed an MOT. Other websites will give you further details for a fee.
When it comes to safety, you should certainly consider features such as an anti-lock braking system and air bags. However, your child’s comfort will also be a contributory factor towards their safety, so make sure that the seat height is right and the heating or air conditioning system works well. Ultimately, the more comfortable both you and your child are with the entire car purchasing process, the more likely it will be a smooth experience for you both on and off the road.
“in collaboration with David Taylor”