Should I downsize my car? | AA Cars

No matter how much you might like your car, there comes a time when it doesn’t quite fit the bill any longer. 

Maybe it’s become too expensive to run, or it’s now too big for your needs.

But is it worth downsizing? Let’s take a look

Is your current car too big?

What you need from a car changes over time – and often this concerns the size of the car. For example, if your children have grown up and moved out, you might not need a large family car. Or if you’re moving to somewhere with limited or tight parking, you might want to start thinking smaller. 

In doing this, though, you need to weigh up if a smaller car is still big enough. If you still need a decent-sized boot or room for adults sat in the rear seats, a supermini or small crossover might not cut the mustard. You could be better off with your current car or replacing it with something of a similar size.  

Is your car too expensive to run?

Another reason many choose to downsize is because typically a smaller car is cheaper to run. There are a number of things to consider here – car tax, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs. If you find yourself spending over the odds, it’s probably time to think about downsizing. 

A small diesel or economic petrol hatchback is a cost-effective solution, especially models with lower insurance groups. Depending on your budget, it’s worth looking for something newer that comes with the manufacturer’s warranty, or investing in an aftermarket one. A well-maintained vehicle with a full service history reduces the likelihood of any expensive bills as well. 

Do I need as much performance as I have in my current car?

As well as downsizing into something physically smaller, it’s worth thinking about downsizing on your current car’s engine and performance. As well as affecting running costs, a car with a smaller engine and less power is often cheaper to buy.

Take the 2015 Volkswagen Golf. If you want a 2.0-litre diesel example, the cheapest available start from £7,500, but by going for a 1.6-litre diesel of the same age, you could save yourself up to £2,000. It’s an easy way of saving money, as it involves little compromise.

Are smaller cars less safe?

A common misconception is that small cars aren’t as safe as big ones. However, as models and manufacturers vary in terms of safety, it’s impossible to make generalisations. It’s certainly true that larger cars are bigger and heavier, and have bigger crumple zones, but smaller cars can be just as safe, especially new ones – the latest Renault Clio and Audi A1 being two great examples. 

To check safety standards, visit the Euro NCAP website, and search for the car you’re planning to buy.

Consider the cost of changing

If you’re downsizing purely to save money from running costs, it’s worth considering how much the change itself will cost. If your current car is new, it’s probably still quite valuable, and it shouldn’t be too expensive to change. 

But if you have an old car that’s not worth much, downsizing could be expensive.

To work out the cost of changing, you should first get a car valuation. Once you know how much you could get for your old car, you’ll be able to work out how much more you’ll need for a new one. If the numbers aren’t stacking up, you could be better off continuing with your current car.


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