Family growing? Time to get a family car

11 tips to guide you to your family car!

Hilary Hackney
family car
family SUV
family cars

1. Do some general used car research

Before you go to the dealer and start looking at cars, you will need to decide on what body type (shape) you would need eg. SUV, sedan or hatch back.

Once you have decided, you can then make a list of the car models you are targeting. Next step would be to do research on each car model to find out common defects, repair costs and maintenance costs as they begin to age.

With your research in hand, you will feel more confident to enter the market with some bargaining power and a keen eye for the weak points in each car model.


2. Knowing the going rate

Mileage and added features can affect a car’s value, so cars of the same model and year may have different price tags. A good place to start would be to find out the book value of the standard models. 


3. Ask, Ask and Ask 

When contacting a dealer or an individual seller, get as much information about the used car as possible. Here is a list of recommended questions to ask the seller during your search:

  • How many previous owners have there been?
  • What is the condition of the car?
  • What is the mileage on the odometer?
  • Was the car involved in any accidents?
  • Has the car had any electrical damage?
  • Does it have a full-service history?
  • Does the car have an existing warranty or maintenance plan? 
  • Does the car require new tyres?


4. Check the mileage 

High mileage cars generally have higher maintenance costs and are more prone to costly repairs. While it might seem like a saving in the short term, the long-term costs could hit your wallet dearly.


5. Check full-service history

Cars that have a full-service history with agents or reputable, RMI-accredited service centres generally make for a better buy. If the car’s service is not up-to-date, insist that the dealer service the car as a condition of the sale.


Tip: Shop Motus-certified new, used and demo vehicles here, all with a full service history.


6. Do a physical assessment

Before taking it for a spin, make sure to carefully inspect it and check for any signs of body repair, or rust that could potentially lead to headaches in the future. If possible, take the car to a mechanic for a more detailed diagnosis.


7. Always take a used car for a test drive

After giving the car a comprehensive examination, it is time to get behind the wheel.

Do not just drive around the block, you need to take the car on a road where you can drive atleast 120km per hour. To properly assess the used car, take your time when doing a test drive, ensure you test all components.


Tip: Take special note as to whether the car swerves to one side as this could be tyre or suspension related. If it does, you would need to find out more about the issue.


8. Check, check and check

Check for leaks: oil and other fluids leaking from a car, however slowly, is a tell-tale sign of poor maintenance or damage. Be sure to check underneath the car, and also in the engine bay. A dirty, oily engine is one you should rather steer clear of.


Check the tyres: Tyres that are smooth or unevenly worn could mean anything from bad wheel alignment and balancing to worn shock absorbers, to a collapsed suspension system.

Read "How to check your tyre tread" here.


Cabin check: Be sure to look out for any chips, cracks and tears in the interior panels, roof lining and seat fabric. Normal wear and tear consistent with the age of the car is acceptable, but a cracked dash board, or missing panel, for example, could indicate a much bigger problem.


Start and test drive the car: A well-maintained car should not have any trouble starting or running smoothly. It should not smoke excessively, and the ride should be smooth and free of stutters, gear problems, vibrations, brake noises, turning noises and excessive rattles. 


Safety check: Safety systems like seatbelts, Isofix and airbags are an absolute must to check. If any of these systems are not functioning, rather steer clear.


Test the tech: Make sure that all electric and electronic systems are working. Test the lights, the wipers, the heating and cooling system, the GPS system etc. to make sure that everything works and check the instrumentation panel for errors or abnormal gauge readings.

When you’ve tested everything else, turn off the radio and pay attention for any odd sounds that could indicate problems. 


9. Get a history check

Accident-damaged cars, or those that were impacted by a crime, like theft, are a high-risk buy. This is especially the case if the car’s engine or electronic components were compromised. Your Motus dealer can ensure that reliable checks are done for you, to confirm that the car is accident and incident free.


10. Find the best deals

Dealerships, such as Motus dealers, will have the widest selection of used cars available. They also often offer extras like new tyres, a second key, and floor mats. Dealers can also do history checks on the car for you.


11. Trust your instincts

A little common sense can go a long way when purchasing a used car. Ask yourself if the dealer seems trustworthy. Know about techniques that are used to hide flaws, such as using air fresheners to mask strange smells and tampering with odometers.

Avoid making an impulse buy just because you finally found a car that looks nice from an outward appearance. Finally, as the adage goes, if it is too good to be true, it probably is!


Case study

"I have always wanted to be a dad, and so when my wife told me a few months ago that we were pregnant, I was stoked. We both spent the first few days, after finding out, planning and dreaming about all the things we are going to do as a family."

"A few weeks later, we discovered that there were two heartbeats. We are having twins! I must admit, that somehow put us into a bit of a flat spin and we suddenly felt the need to start planning and getting ready for the arrival of our two boys. While shopping for all the essentials we suddenly realised that the least of our worries was choosing the right car seats, we actually needed a car that we could put these car seats into."


"I can’t deny that the thought of giving up my sporty two-door was mildly depressing, but I realised that some sacrifices need to be made when one becomes a daddy. After the initial heart-rendering thought, I got over it and felt quite excited to look for a car more suited to our growing family’s needs. With all the other expenses that we faced, we opted for a second-hand car."

"My concern with this decision was that I needed to make sure the car I bought was safe. How would I know if I was buying someone else’s problems? I needed to ensure that I eliminated the risks of buying anything that was not mechanically sound. This is not just a car now, this is the vehicle that will be transporting some very precious cargo. WOW – I always laughed when I saw or heard guys getting mushy over their kids. I am now that guy. These are my boys and I want nothing less than the best for them."


"I have always been a research kind of guy – so finding as much info and getting advice from people I trust is my natural tendency. A lot of people I know seem to want to skip that part, but in cases like this, doing your homework is really necessary."