Purchasing a car is a significant milestone in our lives. A car gives us independence, freedom from congested public transport, and the comfort and convenience to travel with our family, whenever we want.
However, choosing the right car that fits our family's needs is not an easy feat. There are several factors to consider – brand, make, model, features, accessories, and more. It can all feel overwhelming and confusing.
Worry not, here in this guide, we simplify the process by listing the key points to keep in mind before purchasing a new car.
1. Zeroing in on the Right Type of Car
Cars can be broadly classified into – hatchback, sedan, SUV, and MUV. There's no hard and fast rule regarding which type is the best choice for you. It all depends on the frequency of usage, availability of parking space, budget, the size of your family, the type of drives you go on, etc.
In India, cars (and two-wheelers) are not just for utility but also to showcase one's personality and identity. However, don't fall into the trap of choosing a bigger vehicle just to elevate your social standing.
Ask yourself this simple question to help you choose the right model – where will I be driving the car the most? If you’re looking for a vehicle to commute to work and to drive around the city, a small compact hatchback is a better choice than a big SUV. On the other hand, if you're someone who goes on frequent road trips and long drives, then an SUV or crossover may be a better choice.
Summary of factors to consider while choosing the model of the vehicle:
Budget and total cost of ownership
Ease of driving
Size of your family
Frequency and type of usage
2. Automatic or Manual?
A few years back, cars with automatic transmission were a rarity in India. However, today almost all brands launch an automatic variant of each new model. Automatic transmissions are ideal for first-time drivers, and people who commute long distances daily. It's a great choice if you don't want to be bothered by the constant gear shifts, especially in traffic jams and highly congested city roads.
However, automatic transmission variants are costlier and give lower mileage. So, make sure to consider this trade-off while choosing between an automatic and a manual option.
3. Diesel or Petrol?
This is another critical decision that you will have to take early in the buying process. Generally, the majority of vehicle owners opted for diesel-powered engines as diesel was significantly cheaper than petrol.
However, today with the price difference between petrol and diesel narrower than ever before, you can opt for a petrol-powered engine to reduce the initial purchase price.
Diesel-powered engines have a higher initial cost, but lower operational costs. The general rule of thumb is that if you don't use the vehicle frequently, you can opt for a petrol variant. On the other hand, if you're a frequent user, then a diesel variant will run for years without giving you much trouble.
4. Keep an Eye on the Resale Value
Cars are depreciating assets. It means the value of the vehicle reduces with time. With carmakers releasing new models with the latest features every year in the market, most vehicle owners sell their current models to upgrade to the newest model. Hence, the resale value of your car plays a crucial role in determining your choice.
Some brands like Maruti, Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, and Honda are known to have good resale value, while other brands depreciate rapidly. Also, note that some models fetch a good resale value despite passing years, while others do not carry a good price.
While there's no way to predict the exact resale price of a model, make sure to check around and research the average resale value of a brand before committing to a particular model.
5. Do not compromise on Safety
The safety of the vehicle should be your topmost priority while choosing a model. The Indian Government has passed several laws that make it compulsory for all cars in India to have certain safety features. All four-wheelers sold in India after October 2019 should have – ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), dual airbags, and reverse parking sensors.
Besides these mandatory safety features, look for other additional features like:
Curtain airbags that cushion your head in an impact
Electronic stability control that applies brakes on individual wheels to maintain better control prevents the vehicle from spinning out of control.
Autonomous emergency braking that automatically applies the brakes when the driver loses control
Motion detecting safety alerts that warn the driver if the vehicle gets too close to another vehicle
Smart cameras attached to the rear-view mirror that raise the alarm if the driver gets distracted
Models with these safety features cost more, but it’s worth it, as it helps you prevent disasters on the road.
6. Insurance should not be an Afterthought
Irrespective of whether you're a first-time buyer or if it's your tenth car, you are likely to spend an insane amount of time researching the various models, brands, features, accessories, etc. Sadly, the same attention is not given when deciding vehicle insurance.
The right car insurance policy with adequate cover keeps you safe from financial losses during an unfortunate road accident. In India, all vehicle owners must hold at least a third-party cover. However, we highly recommend opting for a comprehensive insurance cover. It frees you from financial liabilities to third parties and covers the damages incurred by your vehicle in an accident.
Don’t forget to include the appropriate add-on covers like – nil depreciation, accessories cover, emergency assistance, engine cover, daily allowance benefit, etc. based on your requirements.
7. Don't forget to Transfer the NCB
NCB (No Claim Bonus) is offered to individuals who have not made any claims during the previous year. If you upgrade to a new model, you are eligible for NCB discount on the new insurance policy, if you have not made any claims the previous year.
Most people do not bother with transferring the NCB from their old insurance policy to the new one, because of the paperwork involved. However, it's a relatively straightforward process that takes just a few minutes. But, the savings in cost are significant. So, make sure to check with your dealer and insurance provider if you're eligible for NCB and if yes, don't fail to take advantage of it.
A car is a big-ticket purchase, and it requires plenty of time, research, and planning. Make sure that you check out trusted auto review sites and consult with friends and family before finalising the purchase. Use the points listed here to evaluate and compare different models and make the right choice that best suits your budget and fits your family's needs.