Passing your test and thinking about buying your first car is an exciting experience for young drivers. It can also be a little confusing, as there’s so much to consider; from how much you can afford to spend, where you should buy a car from, maintenance costs, and car insurance.
Our guide on what to look for when buying a first car answers many of these questions about what to look for when buying your first car and will help you buy with confidence.
Before you begin looking for a car to buy, work out how much you can afford to spend. As well as the initial purchase price, you should also consider the running costs such as petrol, MOT, road tax, and insurance.
Once you have a rough idea of your outgoings, set a budget and do some research into that fit within that.
An MOT certificate is needed once a vehicle is three years old and is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. It will cost roughly £54 for a car that seats up to 8 passengers. Read more about getting an MOT here.
It is a legal requirement to tax your car. You no longer need to display a tax disc in your vehicle but you will need to renew this every six to twelve months, depending on how you choose to pay. You can apply for a new one by filling out a form (V10) at the post office and producing your Vehicle registration document, a valid certificate of insurance, and an MOT certificate. You can also do this online.
Choose a car that suits your needs. Will you be driving long distances regularly? Or will the car just take you from A to B?
You may like the look of a fast, sports car but for a new driver, this type of car is not a good first choice as they can be hard to control if you’re inexperienced. Not only that, the cost to insure you to drive this car will be very expensive.
Another thing to consider when choosing your car is the engine size. The bigger the engine, the more expensive your insurance will be. A good start is1.4-litre engine or smaller.
Do your research by looking at the What Car? Reliability Survey, which rates the durability of 169 models spanning 32 brands, as well as safety ratings.
This partially depends on your budget. If you’re buying from a dealer make sure they are trustworthy. Car dealers in the UK must operate within the Consumer Rights Act, and can also be regulated by trade associations. To find out whether a dealer you’re speaking to is regulated by a trade association, feel free to ask them or contact the trade associations and ask them if they are a member. You may find this article useful if you’d like to know more about who regulates UK car dealers.
Franchised dealers offer better after-sales support, although can be more expensive compared to independent dealers.
Cars are cheaper when buying from a private seller however, it’s important to be cautious as there’s the potential to be conned and you have fewer legal rights.
Yes, before you part with any money you should always ask to test drive the car you’re interested in buying. If you’re buying a used car this is particularly important but make sure to check that you’re covered for your test drive via the dealer or private buyer.
It may be worth taking someone you trust with you too so that you can both listen out for any running problems. Drive the car for at least half an hour to get a feel for how it drives, whether it is comfortable for you, and that the steering and brakes work as they should.
You don’t have to make a decision on the spot and if you’re unsure, go away and think about it. Make sure you also have other cars to compare it to, don’t go with the first one that you see.
Before you choose an insurance provider, shop around and compare quotes. Your first car insurance policy will likely be the most expensive you will pay. Have a read of money’s article regarding car insurance for new drivers, which goes into more detail.
Something which may help with the cost is taking a Pass Plus course which you can take through Totally Driving. As well as improving your confidence as a driver, you could benefit from a car insurance discount. Read more on gov.uk.