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Posted by Royal Sundaram on 18 Jun 2015
Did you know that there were 2,16,431 new car registrations in India in October 2014 alone? According to Team-BHP, the largest automotive forum in India, this was actually a drop from the September 2014 figure of 2,21,861 new car registrations. There is definitely something to be said about the smell of a new car and the excitement of driving home your new ride with all the plastic covers intact. But how do you ensure that you’ve made a good choice and got the best deal possible? Here’s a look at 10 most important things to look for when you buy a brand new car.
The reason we place this at the first position among the things to check for in a new car is that regardless of the engine capacity and all other fancy features, if the car doesn’t have adequate safety features, it could be a disaster waiting to happen given the kind of road accident statistics reported in India.
Did you know that your car should ideally have “curtain” airbags along with the normal frontal airbags to protect your head when there is a sudden impact? These are meant to drop down from the roof and protect the head from whiplash. You could even ask for knee-protection. Also, vehicles are crash-tested and then given star ratings for their safety features. A five star rating, therefore, would be the most preferred. Some of the other safety features that you should check for include:
A. Electronic stability control- this would prevent the car from spinning out of control and sliding sideways when you make a turn at high speed or you suddenly need to swerve, which occurs quite often on Indian roads.
B. Anti-lock brakes – these come in handy when you need to stop your car suddenly, by preventing the wheels from locking up and the car from skidding.
C. Safety alerts – There are different types of safety alerts available such as motion detectors that warn you if another vehicle or object is too close and cameras attached to the rearview mirror that alert you with an alarm if you get distracted.
2. The Engine
Now that you know that your car is safe you need to check the two other important things that Indians are interested in, which is – how fast can this vehicle go and what is the fuel efficiency? Both these aspects are determined by the engine. There are two basic things to check here – the overall displacement of the motor in litres and the number of cylinders in the engine. For instance, a small car would usually have a 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine, which is great for fuel efficiency but might not give you rapid acceleration, especially on an incline. On the other hand, if you have a powerful engine, like a 6.2 litre, eight-cylinder one, you can whizz past everyone else but end up having to cough up much more for fuel, because efficiency here would suffer. Ideally, pick something that is suited for the type of driving you do – if you will be stuck in city traffic, the rapid acceleration won’t be any use.
So, how do you like your gears to function? Are you looking for automatic transmission, where once you put the stick on drive, the car does all the work for you? Or are you a traditional stick shift lover? Did you know that some of the newer models come with “semi-automatic” transmission, where the clutch is automated and you only need to move the gear stick? While the choice of transmission will really not affect the performance of the vehicle, it would affect the cost, and, of course, the fun element. So choose wisely.
4. Cost of Ownership
This is a vital parameter to consider. It is advisable to have a good heart-to-heart with several dealers and specifically ask for all other hidden and apparent additional costs you might have to bear before you make the decision. One of the most important of these is your car insurance. It is mandatory by law in India that every new vehicle comes along with appropriate vehicle insurance. Nevertheless, you need to protect your assets to the best of your abilities and motor insurance could go a long way, especially in times of unfortunate accidents. The good news here is that many insurers and dealers offer special rebates and offers when you buy a brand new car. So, make sure you check for this while negotiating the deal.
While your car is brand new, concerns regarding maintenance and servicing are likely to be minimal. However, with use and wear and tear, it certainly helps to have the best warranty on parts. Check with your dealer because most manufacturers have jumped onto the bandwagon to give warranties of up to five years to assert their quality benchmark. You will need to check whether the warranty depends on the number of years or kilometers driven, as well as whether some extended warranties are available. There also might be a few initial servicing deals thrown in by the dealer. So, don’t hesitate to ask about them. This helps ensure the best maintenance and smooth functioning of your vehicle.
Keep an eye on how much the car you love will depreciate over time. After all, most of us will look to upgrade our ride or at least get the latest model sooner or later. If the resale value of the current vehicle isn’t up to scratch, you might not even come up with the down-payment for the next one. It is a fact that some brands and models retain their resale value despite the passing years, while others depreciate rapidly causing you to actually lose money at the time of selling them.
7. Reversing Sensors & Cameras
Tight parking spots have become the norm in Indian metros. The best way to ensure that you do it right, without getting a scratch on your precious asset, is to check for parking and reversing aids. Then there is the risk of dogs hiding under the car to warm themselves in winter or hide from the blazing sunshine in summer. Without front and rear sensors, we might just start driving without realizing that we are putting another life at risk. And just in case the sensors give false alarm due to proximity to a plant or tree, you have the camera to check whether there is anything in the way. There are also cameras that work better at night than others. So, check for those too.
Navigational aids can come really handy when you go on a road trip or move to a new city. Today most high-end automobiles come with such systems as standard equipment, you could add on a navigation unit to any car that you purchase. Check for those that offer freebies, such as map upgrades.
9. Automatic Headlights
Many times you would have noticed car drivers either leaving their headlights on even after parking the car or driving without headlights because the dashboard is backlit anyway. Now you can avoid such mistakes with automatic headlights that switch on themselves when the light dims, like when you enter a long tunnel or under-bridge. They also switch off automatically when the car is parked and locked. So, say goodbye to dead battery woes because you forgot to turn off the lights at night.
10. Freebies & Add-Ons
Never shy away from asking the dealer whether he is willing to throw in any freebies if you choose to buy the car from them. Some might offer you free servicing for a prolonged period, while others might offer extended warranty on some parts. In an attempt to boost sales, both the manufacturers and dealers offer various add-ons to entice customers. See if you can get a rebate on the premiums for car insurance or even a free holiday! Then there are those that promise gold coins and all sorts of bells and whistles to add on to the brand new car to make it all the more swanky.
Once you’ve checked for all the features, make sure you take the vehicle for a test drive because nothing tells you how comfortable it will be to drive the car till you actually drive it.
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