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5 questions to ask before deciding on a new car, according to a motor dealer

If you’re trading up for 181, here are the most important things to consider.

FINDING THE RIGHT car for your needs, lifestyle and budget can be a tricky process. We want to help streamline the search. As part of our Insights series, every week we’ll take a different car-buying question to the experts at the heart of the motor industry.

January means 181 plates and plenty of new cars, trade-ins and trade-ups. If you’re considering a new car, how can you be sure you’re getting the best model for your budget and needs?

According to Hugh Sheehy, Marketing Manager at Cavanaghs of Charleville, asking yourself these five key questions should help your decision along…

1. What am I going to be using this car for?

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People come in to us already locked in one specific model of car or engine type. They have often read up on cars online and have almost talked themselves into a riddle. It’s our job to unravel that and to figure out what their needs are.

The questions we ask are basic but important. How many people will be using the car? Are you a one-car or two-car house? Will you be travelling long or short distances, mainly? Do you have kids? What will you be using the boot space for? These help to establish which cars would be a good fit.

2. Which of my ‘needs’ comes top of the list?

LUAS 455 copy_90532302 Source: RollingNews.ie/Sam Boal

Buying a car is similar to buying a house, in that it’s a bit of a trade off. You may not find a car that matches with every single need on your list, so know your main priorities and aim to meet those.

For example, if you travel a lot of miles, fuel economy is important. If you hate the thought of a car giving you trouble, reliability is important. Get those priorities straight first, and the your trade off becomes easier.

This question applies to specific features and specs too. If you have kids in the car, features like automatic locking or parking sensors will mean a lot more than a leather interior or media centre.

3. Diesel, petrol or hybrid?

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Around 2008, the country moved to an emissions based system for evaluating road tax, and from then, around 75% of cars sold were diesel and 25% petrol. Now there’s a swing back starting towards petrol, which is typically seen as a cleaner fuel.

Your predicted mileage will help decide which engine to go for, and which will be most efficient for your budget. In rural areas of Munster and Connacht, for example, surveys show there’s still a very high call for diesel, as buyers need to travel longer distances.

4. What can I afford, all-in?

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Figuring out your budget will take some calculations. Firstly, figure out how much of a down payment you can afford. People forget that their current car’s trade-in value will count towards their deposit, so that’s always a welcome surprise.

At this time of year, almost every manufacturer has 181 offers. They will continue for another couple of months and they’ll kick off again in June for 182. It’s a good time to get large discounts with no scrappage deals needed, low interest rates and other ancillary benefits like extended warranties and service plans. All that will save you money.

5. Do I want a finance plan?

shutterstock_624290516 Source: Shutterstock/Gengwit Wattakawigran

Your budget and your finance plan are linked, because if you don’t have the full cost of the car to hand – as most people don’t – you can look at making regular repayments to make up the balance.

With traditional hire purchase, you’ll own the car outright at the end of the repayment period, provided you’ve met all repayments.

With PCP (personal contract plan), once the repayment period is up, you can enter into a new PCP plan for a brand new car. If you’re comfortable with the idea of long-term repayments, you’ll drive away in a new car every few years. Alternatively on PCP, you can buy-out the car for a predetermined amount or hand the car back.

More: 5 things we can expect in 181 and 182, according to a motor dealer

More: 5 key differences between PCP and hire purchase, according to a motor dealer

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