New study reveals who really makes the decisions on purchasing a family car - and why

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Eddie Cunningham

An extensive new survey reveals just how major a role women play in buying the family car.

The comprehensive study reveals that more than four-in-five mothers (82pc) claim they are the "key decision makers" and have the "final say" when it comes to choosing the family motor.

The survey of 1,000 mothers was conducted by the prestigious MummyPages website, which claims to be the biggest of its kind in Ireland.

Its findings make it clear that mums rule the roost when it comes to buying a car for the family.

On the face of it, that appears to go against the traditional perception that most cars are bought by men.

However, there has always been acknowledgement within the motor industry that women play a key influencing role.

Nonetheless, the study's revelation that so many mothers (82pc is a significant percentage) drive the entire purchasing process from start to finish is a major finding in itself and one the motor business will no doubt readily take note of in these competitive times.

Other findings in the survey included:

• 89pc bring their partner to the showroom.

• 71pc would prefer to deal with a female salesperson.

• 66pc of mums involve their partner in the purchase discussions beyond just their financial contribution.

The study also shows that compelling reasons for a family to change cars include:

• The arrival of a baby or the addition of a sibling (63pc).

• Failing the NCT and the prospect of spending more than €750 in repairs. This prompted 56pc to opt for a new family motor.

• 44pc said returning to work after maternity leave was the third biggest reason to change.

Mothers mostly (76pc) researched for their purchase by reading reviews online (hopefully those that appear on and sister outlets).

Interesting to learn that 62pc asked other mums for their recommendations.

The survey's comments on this area provide insight: "The school gates/car park is the most popular place for 53pc to compare a family car's appearance and practical interior seating and storage space."

Sensibly, 41pc of mothers bring their car seats, buggies and children when test-driving a potential new model. And dealers who make the effort to entertain and include the children in the purchase decision were appreciated by two-in-five (39pc).

Among the core items mothers look for in their prospective purchase is a long warranty (88pc).

Again, that is a substantial proportion and shows how buyers want no hassle or extra outlay after doing the deal.

Meantime, three-in-five (59pc) felt roadside assistance cover was important. Other factors the survey found:

• 55pc of mothers assume/believe all new cars have good safety standards.

• 73pc look for the maximum number of airbags.

• An economical car is hugely important for 79pc.

Not surprisingly, given the level of traffic in and out of a family car, 94pc say it is "almost impossible" to keep it clean.

Interesting with all the talk about technology that 60pc appreciated its presence but didn't deem it essential to be standard spec. Nonetheless, keyless entry was cited as the one "must-have extra".

Laura Erskine, spokesperson for, told Independent Motors that "the struggle is the juggle" for mothers: "With childcare, school and extra-curricular activity, drop-offs and pick-ups an everyday occurrence, most rely on their family car several times a day.

"Therefore, it makes sense that our mums would see themselves as the main decision-maker when it comes to changing their family car.

"School-gate envy is a newer phenomenon .... with the school car park often becoming a showroom for the most popular family cars since many have no choice but to drive their children to school."

But while an attractive looking car certainly appeals, the more practical aspects dominate. Being able to comfortably fit their child's car seats and having extra room for multiple sports bags etc alongside a buggy, is what "really delivers the wow factor".

Things to watch out for:

In conjunction with SsangYong, MummyPages drew up the following car tips.

* Make sure your children's car seats fit before you buy.

* Check they are fitted correctly and are re-fitted every month so tension is strong on seatbelts and Isofix connections are secured.

* Check with the Road Safety Authority that you are using the correct car seat.

* What if you expand your family? Will you fit three car seats on the rear bench seating?

* Get the car regularly serviced.

* The more airbags, the better.

* Check tyre pressure and tread depth.

* Buggy sizes vary enormously in size so test boot space that can meet all your needs.

* Also try and look for cars with keyless entry, satnav and easy-clean leather seats. They go a long way towards making life easier.