Your home on wheels

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Motoring -

AC­CORD­ING to a 2015 study by The World Bank, Malaysians spent 250 mil­lion hours a year stuck in traf­fic. Fast for­ward to this year, the num­ber has prob­a­bly in­creased.

Malaysia is blessed with one of the best road sys­tems within Asean. There are high­ways con­nect­ing all four cor­ners of penin­su­lar Malaysia, al­low­ing Malaysians to drive to any desti­na­tion with ease.

The coun­try also has the high­est num­ber of Waze users among the na­tions of Asean, which fur­ther proves that we are driv­ing more than ever be­fore. The num­ber will only rise with the up­com­ing Hari Raya fes­tiv­ity.

There are more than 2.5 mil­lion ac­tive Waze users in Kuala Lumpur alone, ahead of the metropoles of Jakarta and Manila.

There­fore, it is apt to say that Malaysian fam­i­lies spend a ma­jor por­tion of their time in the car.

Dur­ing week­ends, the high­ways will be clogged with ve­hi­cles go­ing out of the cities. As this year’s Hari Raya falls on a week­end, the num­ber of ve­hi­cles on the road will be three or four times more than usual.

The re­sult­ing high­way crawl will make the jour­ney a long and tir­ing one if the ve­hi­cle we are in is not com­fort­able.

Hence, Malaysians should be wise when choos­ing the ve­hi­cle they want to ferry their fam­ily in.

There are a few key points that one should con­sider when they want to buy a new fam­ily car.

Com­fort

This is a ba­sic ques­tion as the size of your fam­ily will de­ter­mine the genre of the ve­hi­cle.

A fam­ily of four or five can get a B- or C-seg­ment car. With older chil­dren, you may need a larger D-seg­ment sedan. If you have more than five fam­ily mem­bers, you should con­sider an MPV.

Re­mem­ber, boot space is equally im­por­tant be­cause if you have ex­cess lug­gage that has to be stored in the cabin, com­fort will be com­pro­mised.

Con­sider the num­ber of peo­ple trav­el­ling for the Hari Raya fes­tiv­i­ties and make sure you have enough space for ev­ery­one’s lug­gage.

Bud­get

A de­cent sedan can now cost slightly above RM36,000. In the olden days, peo­ple are ad­vised to put a large down­pay­ment so that they have a lower monthly in­stal­ment. That will al­low you to get bet­ter cars.

How­ever, there are now many op­tions in any price seg­ment. Put down the low­est down­pay­ment be­cause you will never get the money back.

Just make sure your monthly in­stal­ment is within your bud­get and does not wipe clean your pock­ets af­ter your Hari Raya ex­pen­di­ture. Do not for­get to fac­tor in main­te­nance costs and other ex­penses.

En­ergy sav­ing

To en­cour­age car com­pa­nies to pro­duce fuel-sav­ing ve­hi­cles, the Gov­ern­ment of­fers a scheme of lower tax for en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles (EEV).

With global fuel price on the rise, it is not ideal to spend money on in­ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles. EEV cars also have lower emis­sion of air pol­lu­tants.

With the im­pend­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion on the Hari Raya week­end as ev­ery­one joins the crawl back to their home­towns, us­ing an EEV will mean sparing a thought for the en­vi­ron­ment amid cel­e­bra­tions.

Safety

Malaysia has one of the strictest ve­hi­cle ho­molo­ga­tion stan­dards in the re­gion – due to our good road sys­tem, we have more cars on the roads trav­el­ling at higher speeds.

There­fore, our ve­hi­cles must have the tech­nol­ogy to pro­tect all oc­cu­pants. Be­fore pur­chas­ing a car, check its New Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram for South­east Asia (ASEAN NCAP) crash test re­sult as well as its level of safety equip­ment.

If you have ba­bies, tod­dlers or plan to have them, you should get ve­hi­cles with ISOFIX an­chor­age. You must also look out for elec­tronic nan­nies such as trac­tion con­trol, sta­bil­ity con­trol and blind spot in­di­ca­tor.

Ap­pro­pri­ate safety con­trols and equip­ment mean lower risk of crashes and you can be re­as­sured of your fam­ily’s safety while trav­el­ling.

Fea­tures

With so many op­tions in the mar­ket, it is also good to check the unique fea­tures of each of the models.

En­ter­tain­ment is im­por­tant for a fam­ily. An MPV with a video player and screen fea­ture is good as it keeps the chil­dren en­ter­tained through­out the trip.

Do count how many charg­ing points there are. Mod­ern cars now have USB ports and at least two 12V sock­ets.

Also check im­por­tant fea­tures such as the spare tyre. Be­ing equipped with only a punc­ture kit is not ac­cept­able be­cause it can never re­pair more se­ri­ous punc­tures. If you are in the out­skirts, get­ting help at night dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son can be a daunt­ing af­fair.

Main­te­nance

Some brands might have friendly re­tail prices, es­pe­cially dur­ing the Ra­madan and Raya sea­son, but the af­ter­sales will burn a big hole in your pocket.

Check the car’s ser­vice cost (most brands have the in­for­ma­tion on their web­sites) and war­ranty du­ra­tion.

Nowa­days, there are brands that of­fer three to five years of free main­te­nance. In this case, check whether this refers to free labour only or parts in­cluded.

Now, since it is a fam­ily ve­hi­cle, lis­ten to each fam­ily mem­ber’s opin­ion and con­sider their pref­er­ences. That is what be­ing a fam­ily is all about – shar­ing every­body’s con­cern and weigh­ing every­body’s needs.

The coun­try also has the high­est num­ber of Waze users among the na­tions of Asean, which fur­ther proves that we are driv­ing more than ever be­fore. The num­ber will only rise with the up­com­ing Hari Raya fes­tiv­ity.

Do not fall into the trap of buy­ing a fancy car with­out fully know­ing the ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance costs.

En­sure your new car has the right fea­tures and lug­gage space for you and the fam­ily.

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