Buying a car in India, especially in the middle class homes is no less than a function in the house. The family members are full of excitement, preparations, discussions, consultations, suggestions and counter suggestions. Never before the Indian Car Buyers have been spoiled with the choice of models, variants, colors, sizes. To lure the customer, it is more than the pampering of the Indian consumer by the Indian and Foreign Car Manufacturers in India as they are offering cash discounts and other attractions like free gifts, free insurance, lucky draw, extra accessories and much more which are too difficult to resist.
There are advertisements by the car manufacturers of almost every brand on TV, in Newspapers, hoardings, bill boards – making it impossible to ignore them.
Yet when it comes to selecting a car for the family it is no easy task. Every individual has his or her own preferences and tastes. Some people look for size and number of seats, whil others want factors like economy and mileage to come first.
Tips on how to choose a new family car
Buy a good family car only after researching all the options available, keeping in mind your budget, driving habits and lifestyle. In addition given here are recommendations and precautions that Indian car buyers should take to get the best out of their new car purchase experience.
Decide on a budget
There are 35 + manufacturers offering over 700 variants on sale in the Indian market. Naturally, it can get very confusing and difficult for a car buyer to shortlist the best cars.
What you need is a budget. It is important Decide how much you are willing to spend before you go car shopping. Include in your budget how much of a down payment you will make, and what you can afford in a car payment each month.
Know your preferences and tastes
Each family has its own usage, preferences, tastes and other circumstances. For example, if you live in a locality where parking is at a premium then you may like to settle for a small big car for your family. This makes you look favourably at Maruti Suzuki Ertiga or Honda Mobilio over Toyota Innova.
Thus analyze your needs before you decide on a car. This would be based on mostly the following factors:
The body type:
Decide about the kind of body you would like to buy:
Depending on the type of body you chose or the economy you want to maintain the car you may choose out of 3 alternatives:
These days most of the car models in the market have variants where the features like child safety, airbags, broader tires, fog lights, keyless entry, engine immobilisation are the standard features. Where such features are not there, you may rule out those variants.
Regular cleaning and maintenance
If you have the luxury of a chauffeur and a cleaner then at least keeping the car clean inside as well as outside is not a problem. Otherwise, do not go in for fabric seats as the stains will easily show stains.
Similarly, the scratches and dents easily visible on black and very dark blue color cars, while red or maroon color is very uncomfortable during summers when mercury touches 45 degree centigrade – all this may make you chose the color accordingly.
Other features and options:
There are other things to chose form such as transmission type (automatic or manual shift gears), basic model or luxury model, 4 wheel drive or 2 wheel drive. Do consider the other features the family may need such as good boot space or child lock if you have small kids and need extra luggage when going on long drives.
After Sales Service & Warranty
During a casual discussion with a Belgian businessman, he told me that the family has 4 cars (different models, of course) of a particular European manufacturer. I asked him if finds those cars extraordinarily better over others or there is any other reason. He laughed and said all the cars are about the same in terms of quality but this company’s showroom and workshop is very close to his house. This saves him a lot of time and is convenient too. I couldn’t agree with him more.
It is easy to buy once but the servicing and maintenance by the car company or the dealer is a continuous process. Other things remaining same, chose the company whose dealer’s workshop is not at the other end of the town. Also in case of a breakdown or servicing required while you are in some other town then locating the dealer or the parts should be easy enough.
Last but not the least you may also like to consider the gross cost per service and the cost of the spare parts on a comparative basis.
Decide on the type of car for family
After deciding on your preferences, tastes and needs you should research the “right car” within the price range by short ling on a couple of car models. This is quite easy to do by doing some online research on internet.
Test Drive the shortlisted car models
After doing some online research, you may like to call the dealers of the shortlisted cars to send you the car to your home or office for test drive. This will save your time, efforts as the car salesmen will come to your house and all the family members need not go to the showroom. Take a good test drive, ask the questions and totally satisfy yourself. Do check the car not only on its engine and drive but also the comfort level of the seats for the driver and the passengers, the location of the buttons and switches.
Be prepared for the surprises – sometime the most recommended or popular car model may not offer all that which a lesser popular model may offer. Similarly, if need be you may upgrade yourself to a higher variant of the same care model.
Double check the final offer by the dealer
If you want the best deal, compare the final offer of one dealer with another of the same model and variant. It is worth investing the time to do research on what discounts are available and ask about specials offers such as gifts or free accessories or free insurance.
Read published reviews and ratings
Car Magazines and Websites like team-bhp, topgear, overdrive etc publish reviews on all sorts of cars, including family cars. Gather as much information on you can before you buy
Some Other Tips
Choice of dealer
Other things remaining same, it is better to go the dealer you have purchased a car before. This presupposes that you have had good experience with this car dealer before.
The best periods to buy
In the Indian context, time periods like Shraadh, end of the calendar year are low sales seasons for dealerships as many buyers stay away for personal reasons.
This is an excellent time for a getting a good discount.