7 Tips for Buying a New {Used} Family Car

7 Tips for Buying a New {Used} Family Car

point S tyres, new family car, Vauxhall Zafira, 7 Seater, tips for buying a family car, women buying cars, tips for women buying cars, don't call me step mummy, lifestyle blogger, mummy blogger, blended family, beautiful scenery

Buying a car can be quite daunting, especially if you’re the stereotypical woman who doesn’t really know much about cars.  Or if you’re like myself and started driving later in life.  In the past I have taken the easier but more expensive option and bought new so that I knew I at least had my warranty if anything should go wrong.  This can be a bad financial move as the cars lose their value as soon as you drive them off the forecourt, but I know that a lot of people still buy new every year, and to be honest we debated getting a new model on finance because of our lack of knowledge and my constant fear that if you don’t buy something reliable I could end up stuck on the motorway, miles from home with 4 children hungry, tired, needing the toilet in the back.  Mine and most parents WORST NIGHTMARE!

So here are a few little tips that I discovered whilst researching into buying a new used car:

   1. Don’t be scared to ask for advice

This one can be a lot easier for women buying than men that don’t like to admit they know nothing about engines *coughs* ‘my husband’.  I know most of us are worried about being ripped off every time the car needs anything doing to it at the garage.  They could tell you it needs everything doing and you’re kind of at their mercy.  Although neither my husband or myself know anything about cars, my Father-in-law does, and I have a mechanic friend who gave me some tips.  Also, my Dad recommended someone that he trusts to give me some advice and I took my brother along, who knows more than my husband and I combined when I went to actually buy the car.  If you really don’t know anyone who can give you tips, then ask around on Facebook groups, do some research, the internet is full of people wanting to give you their opinion.

    2. Decide your budget

A big factor for most people is working out what you realistically can afford.  I really didn’t want to go for a Diesel engine as  I’m a big fan of the environment, and it was easy to be tricked into buying a petrol engine that was a lot newer for the same amount of money.  Let’s be honest aesthetics are important to us women, but for the particular car that we were looking at, a Vauxhall Zafira, every mechanic and friend who knew anything about cars advised me against a petrol engine as they are notorious for having problems.  This was much to my dismay, but once I got my head around the fact I would probably only be able to afford an 04 plate as opposed to an 07/08 plate it made the choosing a lot easier, which leads me to the next point.

  3. Narrow your search

There are SO MANY used cars out there, my mind was literally boggling with all the choices.  Was I willing to travel to collect our car or would I settle for lesser quality because it was down the road and easier in the short-term?  We all love to have instant everything these days, and delaying gratification is definitely something that I struggle with.  Once I decided my exact budget, and that I was going for a diesel engine, the amount of cars started to whittle down.  I then also made a choice, that because I didn’t have the luxury of taking my mechanic friend along, I would only buy from registered traders rather than a private sale, because I didn’t know enough to be able to see if the car would be a good investment or not.  I have seen my sister buy cars in the past from a private sale and the next day go and spend £1,000 to fix it because they wouldn’t allow her to return the car, and in the end she couldn’t be bothered with the hassle.  Again this started to whittle my search down.  I then decided how far I was willing to travel, don’t forget that on sites such as autotrader it works out miles as the crow flies, it doesn’t take into account how many miles you’ll actually have to drive to get there by road.

4. Buy a car with a recent MOT or a long time left on it

If you’re really going for a cheap car, you may only want it to last you a year minimum whilst you save for something else.  A car with a recent MOT and that had minimal, if any, advisories on it is more likely to last you at least a year.  Ours had been MOT’d the day before and only just put on autotrader the night before I bought it.  It hadn’t had any advisories on it’s last MOT.  The year before it had a couple of minor things, such as break lights needing replacing etc. and this had been rectified at the time.  Which leads into the next thing…

  5. Get a FULL service history

If you’re buying used you need to buy a car with a full service history.  This way you know that nothing is hidden.  You know exactly what issues that car has had in the past, hopefully only minor ones.  You can see if it’s sailed through it’s last MOT’s etc. or if it often needs a lot of work doing to it.  Great for assuring longevity although we all know nothing is guaranteed when it comes to our automobile friends.

  6. Take it for a test drive

This can be daunting but is such an important step that should NOT be overlooked.  My cousin told me about a car she bought that had so many issues that she would’ve realised had she taken it for a test drive.  I was super nervous about this part as I was going from driving a teeny Toyota Yaris to a 7-Seater Vauxhall Zafira.  I asked the mechanic to drive it off the forecourt for me and take me to somewhere more spacious for when I started to drive, think like when you first passed your test.  Then it was my turn.  Check the car starts first time, that it doesn’t misfire, check there’s no mechanical fault lights flashing whilst you’re driving, check the lights, the aircon, the electrics.  All the things that may have contributed to why you were willing to pay this price.  Does it drive smoothly?  Are the gears shifting nicely, does the clutch stick?  Are the breaks working well?  All of these things are important to check on a test drive.

   7. Check the tyres

I have had a car fail it’s MOT in the past because the tyres were not at the legal tread requirement.  Tyre safety is so important, after driving for nearly a couple of years now I can definitely tell the difference when I’m driving and the tyres need more air in them, when the tread is wearing it doesn’t corner the way it should.  It is unsafe in wet conditions and will add time to your breaking distance.  It is so important to be aware of tyre safety.  If you’re buying a used car from a registered car trader the tyres should all be legal, and again, this is one thing to look out for on the recent MOT.  Tyres can be expensive if you don’t know where to look – check out Point-S car tyres in the UK!  Point is a network of independent tyre dealers that stocks some of the best brands at really reasonable prices and if you use their locator you’ll see they have stockists up and down the country. There are 3 centres within 15 miles of myself.   There are also some companies that stock part worn tyres that are in great condition and can be even cheaper.  We sometimes go to a local dealer like this as recommended by our mechanic friend when funds are a little tighter.  The important thing is to check your tread is at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band in the centre 3/4 of the tread and around the entire circumference.  For more information on the laws about car tyres click here.

point S tyres, new family car, Vauxhall Zafira, 7 Seater, tips for buying a family car, women buying cars, tips for women buying cars, don't call me step mummy, lifestyle blogger, mummy blogger, blended family, beautiful scenery

*N.B. This is a collaborative post

You Baby Me Mummy

It’s Girls’ Football Week

It’s Girls’ Football Week

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to Wembley by the FA to learn all about Girls’ Football Week.  Our two eldest were so excited and I’m gutted to report that on the actual day of the event I’d been up all night with sickness and was far too unwell to drive the 4 hour drive down to Wembley never mind the journey back again.  One of those moments were you’re actually devastated as it felt like such a once in a lifetime moment and the girls would’ve remembered it forever.  However, bless them, without complaining off they went to school instead.

Determined to make sure that the girls still got to try football as this opportunity had shown me how much they were looking forward to it, I was straight on to the FA’s website to find somewhere local that the girls could play.  The first thing that I noticed, there are so many local football teams.  Being a Mum of predominantly girls, and not having the desire to watch football after moving out from a football crazed family home, I had become a bit delusional in my mind to just how much football infiltrates our society.  It is definitely our nations pastime and there are literally hundreds of opportunities within half an hours drive for anyone of all ages to get involved.

I managed to find an all female team for both of them to be involved in for their first attempt, both within 10 minutes drive.  At Isis’ age (10) it can be a bit more difficult as a lot of teams by this age can be well established.  They allow for mixed teams (where boys and girls play together), but at this age for a girl to play in a mixed team they tend to be a girl that can dribble the ball like she has glue stuck to the side of her boot.  I found it a little bit more difficult to find a suitable beginners team for Isis to join but by a little bit more difficult, I mean that involved maybe a couple more phone calls.  The community is great and tight knit.  The gentleman who runs the team that Shayla was trying out for knew of a contact for me to try for Isis.

On Thursday evening after school, Isis was excited to go and see what all the fuss was about.  Having kicked the ball around a bit at school, she was interested in football but wasn’t sure how much she would enjoy it unless she had a proper go.  This is why I am so thrilled about Girls’ Football Week it is so good to raise awareness and remind us that girls can play too.  We set off early so that we could go via Sports Direct to pick her up some supplies.  The basics for a first week would be comfortable clothing, trainers, shin pads and a bottle of water.  Having already expressed an interest we decided to kit Isis out properly.  A gamble I know as she may have hated it, but I sensed her excitement and went for it.  New football shorts, shirt, socks, astro boots, shin pads and a water bottle.  She was all kitted out.

We arrived at a local high school’s astro pitch and I introduced her to man in charge.  He had a girl in her late teens helping out, she ran the warm ups for the girls.  Having been a dance pupil of three disciplines for many years I was shocked how much of it transferred.  Before Isis started dancing she had two left feet.  The co-ordination involved in dance seemed to apply to all the football warm ups.  The way she was able to balance, follow instruction, fitness levels, it all seemed so similar.  If you have a girl who isn’t interested in dance at all but would want to play football, I can imagine that the skills learned from football would transfer if they ever wanted to dance in the future.  Being able to utilise your body and control a football is such a skill.  It requires power, balance and grace.  How are they not female qualities?  Women are so often overlooked when it comes to football (I hold my hand up and say I played into that belief myself), and yet there are currently more than 5,900 women’s and girls’ teams playing affiliated club football.

Isis had an amazing time.  She was thrilled, she made some friends, she slotted in like she’d been playing a while.  I was actually really shocked at how well she did, that sounds terrible doesn’t it?  but I knew that she would either love it or hate it.  She LOVED it.  We will be going every week, and as a family with four children that can no longer afford for everyone to do 3 disciplines of dance I am thrilled to find something that breeds so many of the same principles.  Team work, skill, balance, poise, athleticism, fresh air and exercise….what more could I want for such a small amount of finance, £2.50 a week.

Girls’ Football Week is a fabulous initiative that was started last year to raise awareness that girls can play too.  I’m so pleased that they did.  Had this not prompted me we may never have decided to give it a go…. and who knows?  Maybe Isis, Shayla-Rae or Eden could be the next Kelly Smith and get to play football for England one day.  If you want to find out more head to http://www.thefa.com/girlsfootballweek to support this initiative.  There are so many ways to get involved, head to http://www.thefa.com/play-football to find a local club for you.

This will definitely be an ongoing part of our lives for the foreseeable future.  The girls will just be training now until season starts, but Nanny and Grandad are already excited to come and watch their first game.  So, what are you waiting for?  Find out where your littles can play, or where you can, and if you try this week make sure to tag the FA in your photos by joining in the hashtag #WeCanPlay

Football is definitely not just for boys and I’m so grateful to Girls’ Football Week for opening up my eyes and expanding my girls opportunities.

*We were asked to write about Girls’ Football Week in exchange for a visit and tour of Wembley as guests of the FA, however, we were unable to attend and so posted this because we think it’s an amazing initiative and our girls will be football lovers for years to come.