As a parent, your kids’ safety and comfort will come first when you’re choosing the perfect ride. Whether you’re shopping for a brand-new car or a used one, it’s difficult to know what exactly will make it the right choice for your family. What safety features should you look for? Will it withstand the wrath of your toddler’s missed nap time? Here are some top tips from the experts to help you navigate the options and settle on the best motor for your brood.
“What many parents fear most, perhaps, is making an uninformed decision on such an expensive purchase,” says Raaed Sheibani, growth hacker at used car portal CarSwitch.com.
“Safety is every parent’s main concern. The list of safety requirements can be long, but the most important things to look out for are comfortable seat belts for kids so they don’t mind staying buckled up, a forward-collision alert and adaptive cruise control to keep everyone safe even if the driver is distracted by kids in the back seat,” Sheibani says.
Now onto one of every car-owner’s biggest woes: parking. “Go for a car with a reverse camera or bumper-mounted sensors to be aware of even the lowest and smallest objects behind you as you’re reversing your car,” Sheibani advises.
“An Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is also a great safety feature because it improves your car’s braking ability and steering control.”
When looking for a family car, parents should also consider how comfortable it will be for their little ones. A driver’s peace of mind highly depends on that of the back-seat passengers and the tinier they are, the harder they’ll be to please.
“Separate climate controls and cupholders are worth paying a little extra for if you’ll frequently have young passengers in the back seat,” says Sheibani. “It would also be great to have a convex mirror to give you a full view of what’s going on in the back. Try to get a car where the back seats also recline so the kids can sleep.”
Focus on cleanliness and space
Just because your car is a second home to your kids doesn’t mean it can’t be dirt-free.
“Getting a car with a built-in vacuum cleaner, a feature introduced by some new minivans, offers great value for money,” says Sheibani. Cookie crumb emergency sorted.
Space really matters, too. Kids don’t like cramped spaces, and if you’re planning on going for a long trip, you’ll need to fit lots into the car. So, the more seating and storage space your vehicle has, the better. “We’re talking decent practicality and loads of back-seat storage space and enough boot space to haul around kids’ paraphernalia,” says Sheibani. “Remember, if the little ones don’t have enough space to move around, they’ll start fighting with each other – sooner than usual. Also, ensure the car has a low window line so they can see out.
Get the tech
While we may try to reduce screen time, technology does make for amazing kids’ entertainment in the car. “iPod plugs, a USB connection for the back seat, or a DVD player will keep younger passengers entertained,” Sheibani says. “An adjustable holder for smartphones and tablets neatly built into the back of the front seat is useful, should they want to watch a movie. A car with built-in Bluetooth enables you to keep your hands free as you take calls on your mobile.” Also, if you’ve ever experienced being lost with a car-load of bored kids, you’ll probably know that built-in GPS is a good investment.
Remember, getting a family-friendly car doesn’t mean compromising on features that will make it fun for you to drive. So go for that sound system if you like. It’s also a good idea to take your spouse and kids with you on the hunt for the right car. Let’s just hope the kids don’t have too much fun in the showroom…
CarSwitch is a platform for buying and selling used cars. For more information. www.carswitch.com.