Welcome to Inquirer Mobility

Just to get things straight, this is not an election piece. As tempting as it may be to write about how your choices can affect your life as well as your loved ones’, given that election day is a little over a week away, let us digress into a more practical application of your power to choose. That of buying a car.

With the current state of the metropolis’ mass transport system, we really can’t blame you for choosing to invest your hard earned cash in the purchase of private transportation. A personal car offers comfort, convenience and reliability that our trains, buses, UV expresses, taxis, jeepneys, tricycles and motorcycle services can hardly match on a consistent basis.

And despite our wish to drive without traffic, those who buy cars seem to have accepted the fact that they would rather be stuck in a jam than be stuck shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger in a public ride that is, more often than not, full to the brim.

So if you are one of the so-called 12% of Metro Manila’s non-commuting population that have a plan and the financial capability to purchase a car for personal use, then let this be a guide to consider when choosing which vehicle suits your purpose.

What is the vehicle’s role in your life?

If you need a car to get to work on your own, or have grand ambitions to beat the number coding system, then a small car with a light engine displacement should be enough for you. Considering you’ll be stuck in traffic most of the time, there’s no point in getting a 7-seater SUV to hog more precious road space.

Small cars are not only less thirsty with fuel, they are also more nimble to chuck around in tight spaces and easier to park. Not to mention, they are cheaper too. And the money you will save can end up on car accessories to personalize your ride. That is a win right there.

What is your budget?

It goes without saying that your budget for a car will determine how big or small your new ride will be. With car loans getting harder to come by these days, the kind of car you will afford is largely dependent on the amount you can let go as down or full payment for the vehicle.

Consider also your financial capacity to pay the monthly dues, preventive maintenance services, toll and parking fees, and fuel. While you’re doing the math, factor in the cost of annual comprehensive insurance to protect your investment as well. As you can see, owning a car is a responsibility that goes well beyond your initial cash outlay.

How far will you drive your car most of the time?

If you will be driving no more than five kilometers each way, every day, and you intend to use your car mainly for this purpose, then perhaps you will be better off walking, riding a bike or, hailing a ride.

Assuming your workplace is near enough to walk to, you might as well just rely on your legs. Your long-term health will surely benefit from the added exercise.

How fuel-efficient is it?

Pump prices are not only getting higher, they are not going down significantly any time soon as well. As mentioned earlier, if you will be stuck in traffic most of the time, you should opt to buy a car that sips the least amount of fuel.

A small engine is more than enough to move your car around the metropolis in comfort. Avoid buying a car that will only use up all its fuel idling in a jam, has astronomical horsepower and torque figures you will hardly make use of 99% of the time, and will only take in a more expensive grade of fuel.

Weigh your environmental credentials.

Combined with your car’s intended purpose and fuel-efficiency, choosing one that will have the least environmental impact is your way of helping nature cope with the stress of human mobility.

The less fuel burned by your car, the cleaner the air all of us will breathe. Hybrids can be great for this purpose. Cruising in traffic on battery power, using only enough fuel to charge the car up or extend its range. But if you really want to be independent from day-to-day use of fuel and carbon dioxide emissions altogether, then there are electric vehicle options already available in the market today.

Consider pre-owned.

The Philippine car market is saturated with choices. If you want the peace of mind and security of a new car warranty, then there are brand new cars that are ready for the picking. If however, you want to save some money and only intend to have a car that fits your budget, then hunt for a used one instead.

There are more capable, albeit older, models in the pre-owned scene for the same price as a basic brand new car. Buying used is where paying less for more can actually work.

Choosing a used car has its own set of points to ponder on though. Suffice it to say, a car with an up-to-date service history, low-mileage, and verifiable ownership, should be on top of your list. Just remember, a used car will come with risks. But if you are willing to live with them and have the mental fortitude to deal with mechanical issues, then a used car might just be enough for your purpose.

Do you have parking?

Despite common practice, side streets and the bangketa are not parking spaces for cars. If your parking space is limited, then a smaller vehicle should occupy it. But if you don’t own a plot to park your car on, and will only rely on public roads to accommodate your comfort, then please reconsider buying a car and adding to the woes of other motorists.

Traffic, coding schemes, high parking rates, stratospheric fuel prices, long-term maintenance costs and ancillary expenses are just some of the worries that make car ownership more stressful than it should be. That is why you have to be smart in making the right choice of vehicle that will partner you in your journeys.

With today’s fast-paced life and the increasing demands for mobility amidst a lurking pandemic, owning a car has become more than just a right of passage. It has evolved into an unwitting necessity.

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