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Things to consider when buying your first car

When buying your first car (either new or second hand) it is essential that you know what you are looking for. To help you find the perfect set of wheels, here are some helpful points to consider when purchasing your first car.

Set yourself a budget when buying your first car

How much you have to spend and how you will pay for your first car (cash or credit, bank loan or finance). Don’t just consider the cost of your first car, but also the running costs too, such as the road tax, MOT, fuel, repairs, servicing and insurance.

Insuring your first car

Young drivers (aged 17-25) pay higher insurance because they are an unknown risk. Many factors will affect the cost of your insurance such as your age, address, where you park at night, car details, engine size, and so on.

Some insurance companies will offer you a reduction on your insurance policy if you have completed the Pass Plus scheme or have a black box fitted that will monitor your driving. For more information visit our young driver insurance page.

Acquiring your first car

You can choose to buy your first car from an auction, a private dealer, a private seller or a main dealership. But always remember to shop around. Make sure you do your research using the internet, buying guides, the AA or RAC – or someone you trust who knows about cars.

Choosing the right first car for you

Before buying your first car, see if you can take it for a test drive. Listen to the engine noise; does it clunk or rattle? Do the brakes work? Does the car stop in a straight line? Is the braking smooth? Does it feel reassuring?

If the car is over 3 years old, check the MOT, remembering that it is no guarantee that the car is working perfectly at the moment of sale; it only means that, at the time of the MOT, it fulfilled certain criteria.

Have a look at the service record and any documentation included (garage receipts for work done). Check that the registration documents describe the car properly? Does it all match up correctly? Is the mileage reasonable? Are the tyres good? If you’re in doubt ask for a second opinion from someone you trust. Never buy a second hand car is you’re not 100% happy.

Buying your first car at auction

This is the riskiest way to buy your first car. You must know what is going on so if you’re not familiar with auctions, take someone knowledgeable and trustworthy with you, and go as a spectator at first to get a feel of the place and process.

Decide your budget and stick to it; it is too easy to get excited and exceed it: potentially a costly mistake!

Always read the auction terms and conditions and assess the car in daylight. If you can, take it for a test drive. If you are unsure about the safety or legality of any car, stay away from it. Auctions are used by the less scrupulous to dump illegal or dangerous cars onto unsuspecting punters. Take someone with you who knows about cars; listen to their advice. If in doubt, do not buy.

Buying your first car from used car dealership

Sometimes, it may be better buying your first car from a car dealership that has passed a part-inspection. Used first cars go through rigorous inspection and repair before they are sold. A car dealership will also give you the option of purchasing a warranty on the first car.

Of course, these first cars will cost a little more than those from private or auction sales, but you can feel more secure – and you have some come-back if things go wrong.

Buying a brand new car for your first car

Buying a new car is exciting but costly. A new car will have to be taken in for regular servicing to maintain the warranty. However, they will also have modern anti-theft devices as standard.

You may get good deals on a new car purchase, such as free insurance or free road tax for a year. Do your research to find out the best deals around.

Once you’ve done buying your first car

Buying your first car is an exciting time. However, before the freedom of the road hypnotises you, take some safety precautions:

If you are going on a long journey, especially at night, make sure you have enough fuel to get home.

Take your mobile phone, charged and in credit. Take a ‘sat-nav’ AND an up-to-date road map.

Let somebody reliable know where you are going, and when you are likely to get back.

Always lock your car doors and if you need to ask directions, only put the window down a few inches, and keep the engine running. Always try to park in a well-lit street.

Above all, be safe.

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