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4 things you need to think about when buying a car 

MANILA, Philippines – In spite of factors such as worsening traffic conditions and cost of maintenance, buying a car remains a top priority for many Filipinos.

The number of car owners is steadily growing. According to data from the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID), annual local sales in 2016 grew by 60%, totaling to 93,179 units with the bulk of sales coming from the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) segment due to low oil price. Fourth quarter sales from last year likewise increased 26% with 24,434 units from 19,374 in the same period in 2015.

Buying a car is a serious decision. There are many things to consider so you should never rush into getting one.

We talked to motoring experts Patrick Tadeo and Joey Storm Rivero, Online Editor of Carmudi Philippines and Administrator of Driven2Ride Philippines, respectively, to determine the key considerations Filipinos must look into so they’re sure to pick the car that suits them best. 

Scope the market to find what fits your budget and needs

There are slight differences to the factors new and experienced drivers initially consider when they’re about to purchase their first or next car.

While experienced drivers zero in on details such as consumption, fuel efficiency, and the like, new drivers often put importance on cost and what’s “in.”

But two things they both put premium on is getting their money’s worth and excellent performance – good handling, great steering, great suspension, and transmission.

To do this, it’s important to look beyond tried and tested brands that define what's currently in demand. 

Do proper research by going on online car forums and Facebook pages to see what owners of the same car you have an eye on are saying. You can also look into reviews on car magazines and websites, but don’t treat them as your only guide.

Compare and contrast factors such as amenities, performance, cost of total ownership and the entire customer experience.

Get a car that fits your lifestyle

Your lifestyle and passions will also factor in when you buy a car.

Say, you primarily drive to work during weekdays but also escape to beaches and other scenic locations during weekends. You might want to get something that drives like a regular compact car yet  is spacious enough for all your baggage and equipment such as a crossover, or vehicles that are a cross between a mini van and an SUV (sports utility vehicle).

You might also want to consider the destinations you’d most likely frequent. For instance, a sports car would be perfect for driving along paved roads and highways such as the ones leading to Subic, but not along the rough roads of Baler.

Find a car that can withstand the weather and traffic conditions

The “right car” will also depend on Philippine weather and the current state of our roads and traffic. 

In this case, a crossover would again be perfect because it’s easy to handle and can squeeze into narrow streets around city. A small subcompact will also be ideal because of its size, fuel efficiency, and performance. 

A car with a higher wheelbase would be ideal for driving on flooded roads, particularly during our country’s infamous rainy season.

Save on fuel costs with a fuel-efficient car

Lastly, you might want to make sure that the car you’ll get is fuel-efficient, especially when you consider the worsening state of traffic in Metro Manila and increasing price of fuel.

Tadeo said, “A car that’s stuck in traffic is only wasting fuel when it isn’t moving, making a V6 engine impractical compared to a three-cylinder mill.”

Rivero added, “Just imagine how much gasoline we are burning just being in traffic, naka-standstill ka lang do’n. And just imagine if you have this car that’s not really fuel-efficient but more of a performance car, it’s really not going to be cost-efficient for you.

“It will also not really be economically sound for our country. People just running around with cars overpowered, gas guzzling, rather than having something that’s fuel-efficient,” he said.

Buying a car is a commitment so careful decisions need to be made at every step of the way.

Fortunately, consumers can now opt for cheaper options to help them save on maintenance costs. Passenger cars with engines powered by diesel are more affordable.

Keep your options open and don’t fall into the trap of getting what’s popular without looking into everything first. –

Graphics by Nina Martinez