How To Buy A Used Family Car Without Losing Your Mind

It is said the most important car journey of your life will be the one where you take your baby home from the hospital. I remember it like it was yesterday; both of my baby’s hospital homecomings were done in a Renault Laguna, with me sat gingerly in the front passenger seat with a towel protecting my delicate c-section scar (those speed-bumps!), our precious bundle in the back all cosseted in a MaxiCosi car seat.

From that emotional moment cars took on a new meaning. No longer were they a set of wheels only for the purpose of cruising from work to home to the shops in, but a protector of my family. A steel defender against harm, the only thing that stood between my babies and the road-based dangers of the outside world.

That became more apparent to me recently, as I began the process of shopping for a used car.

After hearing about a spate of really awful car accidents on the news I decided I wanted to change my vehicle for a safer model, one that would give me more peace of mind when beginning that long process of strapping the kids in to their car seats each morning. And I was surprised how difficult it was to pick apart the safety aspects of the cars I was looking to buy.

Research by Co-op Insurance shows that 75% of parents think a car’s safety should be talked about by law as part of the car sales process, and when you think about it it’s bonkers this isn’t already standard practice

I’m not alone: research by Co-op Insurance shows that 75% of parents think a car’s safety should be talked about by law as part of the car sales process, and in my opinion it’s bonkers this isn’t already standard practice. Research also shows the majority of parents (60%) choose to change their car before their child was born, with almost half (47%) citing improved safety features for this decision. And over two fifths of new parents agree with me and class driving their new baby home from hospital as one of the most stressful driving experiences of their life.

These findings coincide with the launch of Co-op Insurance’s annual ‘Safe Used Car’ awards, which highlights the safest used cars available in the UK for new parents. This year the Mazda CX-5 came out on top, followed by the Volkswagen Touran, BMW 2 series Active Tourer, Nissan Qashqai and Toyota RAV-4.

The Safe Used cars for parents were selected on criteria developed by Co-op Insurance and Thatcham Research and take the vehicles’ Euro NCAP rating into account (they have to be 5 Star), with a specific focus on the Euro NCAP child occupant scores which include front and side protection, as well as how easy and safe it is to fit child restraints into the rear seats.

buy a used family car

How To Buy a Used Family Car

Car shopping is one of those must-do activities that we all have to tackle at some point. Like ironing and parents evening it joins the brigade of “things I really don’t want to do but have to because I am an adult” (while we’re at it, you can add ‘eat celery as a good example to my children’ to that list, too).

If I’d had this list of cars – and this super helpful guide – when I was car shopping I would have definitely found the process easier; imagine looking at that top five and picking out the vehicle you like the most rather than traipsing around approximately 600 garages to mindlessly gaze at cars that all start blending into one (or is this just me?!).

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research, agrees the car shopping exercise should be made easier: “More than 90% of cars sold have a Euro NCAP safety rating and this includes how well children are protected in the event of an accident. There is absolutely no reason why this information can’t be made more visible by dealerships, car manufacturers and used car sellers as it is in the US.  We hear time and time again from the car industry that car buyers don’t ask about the safety features on cars they’re looking at.  This research clearly shows otherwise and should be a wakeup call for the automotive industry.

“Our advice to potential car buyers is do your research, identify what is important to you and what safety features you want.  And what is non-negotiable such as whether your child car seats fit, and can be safely secured.  If not, then walk away.  Child safety is too important to compromise.”

Huge thanks to Co-op Insurance for working with More Than Toast!

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