Buying your first car is one of life’s important milestones. Whether you’re a newly-qualified driver or you’ve been borrowing a friend or relative’s car up until now, nothing beats the feeling of independence you get with having your very own set of wheels.
But with that independence comes a whole set of responsibilities and considerations. Here we break down everything you need to take into account when buying a car for the first time.
What’s your budget?
You might already have some idea of the make and model of the car that you’d like, but it’s important to do your sums to figure out how much you can afford to spend. Along with the cost of the actual car, you’ll need to budget for things like insurance, car tax, fuel, and annual servicing and MOT costs. Use this information to figure out how much you can afford to spend.
Have you done your research?
Once you know your budget, you’ll have an idea of what kind of car you can afford. Make a list of your priorities for your car – are safety features such as ABS a must? Good fuel efficiency? A big boot? Once you have them sussed, start researching what cars fit your needs and your budget. Make a note of the typical price of the makes and models you’re interested in.
New or used?
Making this decision early on will help narrow down your search. To do so you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each. New cars come with the reassurance of a manufacturer’s warranty, along with the peace of mind that your car will be in top-notch condition. You can also buy it to your own specifications, such as choosing the paint colour and trims. However, the main con for a new car is that it quickly depreciates in value. Although this is mitigated if you secure your car on a PCH or PCP. More on that later.
Used cars meanwhile, are better value for money. New cars depreciate as soon as they leave the showroom, losing an average of 20% per year, meaning you could get a three-year-old car for around 40% of its original price. Another pro is that you don’t have to wait around for your car to be built and delivered – you can find and buy a car that day. Older used cars are unlikely to have any remaining warranty, however, so this will be an extra expense for you to consider.
How will you buy the car?
If you’re unable to buy your car outright, you’ll have to look at the different finance options available such as personal loans, personal contract purchase (PCP), hire purchase (HP) and personal contract hire (PCH). These are all subject to credit checks, but don’t worry if your rating is less than perfect. Companies like Go Car Credit offer finance plans for people with poor credit histories.
Where will you buy it?
If you buy your car from a dealer and something goes wrong, you’ll have legal rights to protect you. But whether you buy from a dealership or a private seller, it’s still important to carry out your own checks. Things to check include the car’s age, service record, mileage and MOT history; the number of previous owners; and any modifications.
Don’t commit to buying the car until you’ve had a test drive and remember, you’ll need to tax the car before you can take it home.
Armed with these tips, you should be able to find a great first car to fit your needs. Happy driving!