Buying your first car
A Guide For First Time Car Buyers
Your first car will probably be a used car and buying wisely can be a daunting process. Here’s a useful guide to help you make some decisions on what’s right for you.
How much will it cost me?
Remember that the cost of a car is much more that just the purchase price – you’ll need to think about the running costs – car insurance, MOT, road tax, petrol, repairs and servicing.
Road Tax: This is dependent on engine size and emissions. To find out more, visit www.taxdisc.direct.gov.uk
Insurance: Every road vehicle must be insured to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe and legal. How much you will pay depends on your age and driving experience and your yearly mileage. There are plenty of price comparison websites available where you can get an insurance quote so make sure you do lots of research online to find the best price.
Once you’ve set your budget, you can start to look for the right car for you.
What car do I want?
Do your homework! Magazines such as Parkers and The Which Car Guide rate and review all types of cars. Road tests willgive you detailed information on performance, reliability, handling and other important points. There’s also a price guide too. All this info is great when you come to negotiate your purchase. You’ll know the price you should be paying, whether the model has any common faults, specific issues to look out for etc.
Where do I buy from?
Franchised dealer – (specializing in one car make) usually, Franchised dealers will have better quality used cars but you’ll pay a slightly higher price. For this, you’ll get a better after sales service and assistance. Buying from a franchised dealer gives you maximum legal protection. Of course dodgy franchised dealers exist so look for an established company with a good reputation. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Generally speaking using a franchised dealer is a good option when buying a first car.
If you’re planning to buy from other sources, It’s best to get an independent assessment of the car before you buy. Many motoring organizations have an inspection service which you can buy – without having to be a member. One of these is the RAC but many others are also available.
Tip: Always look for the service history. You can tell whether the car has been serviced properly and any repairs that have been done. You can also check online that the car hasn’t been written off by an insurance company or that there’s no money owed on it by the seller.
Independent dealer – often a wide variety of potential first cars at lower prices. However, variable used car quality and after sales service.
Auction - potential to pick up a first car bargain. Car quality can be inconsistent however, and some dodgy cars can be bought. There is also little chance of financial comeback if the used car develops any serious faults. To get the best out of a car auction it is best to go with someone who knows about cars. Your usual legal rights may not apply if the seller issues a disclaimer, i.e. ‘sold as seen’, which excludes all or some of those rights. Read the auctioneer’s conditions of business carefully to check whether this is the case.
Privately – lots of used cars to choose from and low prices. However, there’s no after sales service and you have fewer legal rights. The car must be as described but the other rules don’t apply i.e. there is no legal requirement that the car is of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose.
Tip: Car dealers will sometimes pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal obligations and get rid of faulty or over-priced cars. Be suspicious when ads give a mobile number, when you see the same phone number appearing in several ads, when the seller wants to bring the car to meet you.
THE GOLDEN RULE- Negotiate!
Never pay the ticket price. Always negotiate. If the seller won’t drop the price then walk away, leave them your phone number with the instruction to give you a call if they change their mind and drop the price. Also don’t be afraid to ask for a free or extended warranty, even a full tank of petrol – it all adds up!
Test Driving A Used Car is Essential When you do, make sure you’re insured to drive the car you’re about to test drive! Always start the engine from cold. If the engine has already been warmed up you won’t get to see if there are any cold-start or cold-running problems.