A vehicle is an aspirational item. Aside from taking its passengers from point A to point B, most individuals and families consider a vehicle as the reward of sacrifice, hard work, and, perhaps, years of investing. For those who now have the means to purchase their dream car, here are some tips for finding the most value in your purchase.
Conduct a Needs Assessment
Before going to the showroom, the prospective car owner should ask “who will use this vehicle” and “where do I intend to take it?”
On weekdays in Metro Manila, it is common to see only one or two persons inside a vehicle. Almost all four-wheeled vehicles are able to occupy five persons so the daily commute should not be a problem. However, the car owner should think of the extended family as well. Most Filipino families have extended members and as the country transitions to a new normal, travel to the countryside is back. Should you have nephews, nieces, nanny or dog in the house, it is best to provide an additional seat or two for them. This is where multi-purpose vehicles or small seven-seater SUVs come in.
Roads can be a challenge in provinces. While most people now reside at or around urban areas, their work or business may require some to travel to far-flung places. The trip to a construction site may involve cruising through highways and traversing frequently muddy trails. It is true that a 4-wheel drive vehicle costs more but don’t compromise. There are carmakers who now offer entry-level pick-up trucks that have 4-wheel drive.
Identify the features that you need
The more features in a vehicle, the higher its selling price. As a car buyer, ask yourself if these bells and whistles are worth spending a few thousand pesos more over the base, or entry-level, grade.
Go for safety in assessing exterior features of a vehicle. Reverse cameras and parking sensors are good to have. These help the driver avoid hitting an obstacle or another car while parking, thus, removing costs for dent and scratch repairs. Fog lamps are both aesthetically-pleasing and helpful. You will need the additional visibility when you travel in dark, isolated roads, or if your area usually rains.
If you want to stick to the essentials, forego on the features that enhance the look of the vehicle. More expensive grades offer front, side or rear skirts, a rear spoiler, and a sportier wheel design.
Go for comfort and convenience with interior features. A good audio system, with Apple or Android connectivity, removes the stress of being stuck in EDSA traffic. Modern vehicles now have a wireless charger so you can be sure that your smartphone will not die as you leave the car. Expect the kids to be less bored if there are USB ports and less tired if there are sufficient bottle holders for their drinks.
One of the reasons for physically visiting multiple brands is to check on the vehicle’s luggage space. There are vehicles within a segment that have a relatively smaller cargo space. A small cargo space is not ideal if you bring a lot of equipment for work, or bags if your family goes on a vacation.
Then, there are the operating costs of the vehicle. First and foremost is fuel efficiency. While driving habits and the car’s maintenance contribute to fuel consumption, a car’s engine must be able to perform with less stress as possible. A 1.0-liter car is generally thought of as fuel efficient but this attribute diminishes if it regularly carries 5 adults plus equipment to work. The same applies to 1.3-liter, 7-seater multi-purpose vehicles. These are indeed affordable, but the engine may need to exert more to carry its body, not to mention its passengers and cargo.
Don’t forget the after-sales service
Enter the front door and a prospective car buyer can see and feel the level of customer service in a dealership. Like buying a policy from an insurance agent, a car purchase is a life-long relationship with the brand and its frontliners. The sale is just the start of that relationship. As you proceed to the service area, take a look at the staff and see if they are approachable, courteous and conduct themselves professionally.
When buying a car, the selling and servicing dealer should be near your house or office. This should be paramount over falling in love with the design and value-for-money proposition of a vehicle. It will be a chore to drive 30 kilometers or an hour to take your car for periodic maintenance.
When taking a car for maintenance or repair, there are parts that need to be replaced. Brands that are not volume-sellers may have a difficulty in obtaining parts for your vehicle. This will entail waiting and coming back after a few days or weeks.
Remember to take time and shop from multiple brands and dealerships to find the right car and the most attractive offer for you. As one who invested for this goal for many years, it is now time to buy your dream car.
Marion Evangelista, RFP CTEP CTA is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. To learn more about personal-financial planning, attend the 98th RFP program in October 2022. To inquire, e-mail [email protected] or text at 0917-6248110.