Ten Top Tips for buying your first car!

In this blog we’re taking a look at a major milestone in anyone’s life…the purchase of your first car! First cars have a bit of a reputation for being old bangers which have been through the mill a little bit, with high mileage, dents, bumps and scrapes along the bodywork, and in some cases, patchy service history and questionable repair jobs! But you needn’t buy one of these, as there are plenty of options 

these are exactly the type of cars you need to avoid, and to help you make the most of buying your first car, we’re giving you some handy hints and tips, so read on!



Decide on a budget!

First thing’s first, how much have you got to spend? Whether you’ve saved some money up yourself, had some help from relatives, considering a finance package or even a combination of these, this is a really important question to ask yourself, as it immediately sets a line you cannot cross.  When you have a budget, as long as you’re strict with yourself, it should stop you being tempted into a ‘deal’ you cannot afford by a pushy salesperson!


Consider the ongoing costs…

Ok, so you have a budget in mind, or a figure you’re willing to spend on a monthly basis if you’ve decided on a loan or finance deal. But don’t forget to consider the ongoing costs of running a car! A car’s service cost, price of spares and repairs and fuel consumption could all have a significant impact on your wallet or purse, so keep these in mind and you’ll avoid nasty surprises. 


Shop around.

There are so many places you can buy a used car from these days, it can be a bit of a minefield, but try and buy from a reputable dealer if you can. This way you get far more protection legally, should something go wrong with the vehicle you end up choosing. Whether it’s a local hidden gem or a nationwide dealer network, we’re sure you’ll find something within your budget. Of course, this is more likely to be the case at an independent dealer, but even some of the larger networks have ‘Value’ ranges which have cars in them which they wouldn’t normally sell. These are most likely to be vehicles which have been part-exchanged in a deal for another customer’s new car, and you can find some real bargains here, especially if the vehicle has been well looked after.


Take someone with you!

It’s advisable to take someone with you when going to look at cars generally, but especially if it’s your first time! Don’t just take anyone though, make sure it’s someone you trust, who thinks rationally and who can act as an additional set of eyes and ears when you’re going through the process of buying the car. Ideally, they will have been through the process before themselves, and so will know what to expect from it. 


Check the car’s history.

This is a big one! When you’ve taken a liking to a car, one of the first things you should do before even thinking about taking it on a test drive is to check its history. Look into the MOT status of the vehicle using the government website, take a look through the service book and original V5, view receipts or invoices for any historical mechanical or cosmetic work undertaken and try and get an insurance quote early on so you know if the car is affordable long-term. Also consider checking for any outstanding finance on the vehicle with a HPI check. If you buy from a reputable dealer, all of their cars should be clear of finance, but sometimes it is best to check this, just in case!


Always take a test drive.

Never buy a car without taking it for a test drive! Only by driving a car can you get a real feel and understanding of whether it’s right for you, and sometimes it’s the only way to spot potential problems with it. 

When driving the car, you’ll be able to tell whether there are signs of problems, such as it pulling in a certain direction, squeaking or grinding brakes, unstable cornering, poor acceleration, vibrations or warning lights on the dashboard. If the car does any of these things, or anything else you or your car-buying companion find unusual, then there could be a potentially serious issue with the vehicle which will need rectifying before it is sold. If you’re absolutely set on this car, then you can use any potential defects as bargaining power in future negotiations.  

However, if you end up in a scenario where the salesperson involved with the potential deal doesn’t let you take the car out, then alarm bells should start ringing as there is probably a reason they’re not letting you drive it until cash has exchanged hands! 


Don’t buy the first car you look at (unless you’re absolutely sure)!

It’s easy to get a bit giddy and just go and buy the first thing you see and drive, particularly when you’re buying your first car, but try and take a step back and carefully consider all of your options. You should try to look at a few different cars and put them on a shortlist, consider the pros and cons of each one, and then make a sensible, well-informed decision before entering into negotiations! 


Never pay the advertised price!

For some reason, many of us are prepared to just pay the price displayed in the car’s windscreen in the hope of having a smooth transaction. If you’re prepared to haggle though, you can end up saving hundreds if not thousands of pounds on the cost of your vehicle. The key to any successful sale is the art of negotiation! 

Arm yourself with details of identical models with similar mileage in other locations, and always go in with an opening offer under the figure which you’re truly willing to pay, and let the salesperson do the work in getting to a figure which works for all parties. 

Remember, you’re the one in control as you’re the one with the money! The seller is relying on you parting with that money in order to make a sale, and if you’re at a bigger dealer, the salesperson is likely to be targeted on making sales! 


Insure it before you drive away.

Many dealerships offer “driveaway insurance” for a short period as part of their package in selling the car, but it’s advisable to have arranged your own insurance prior to driving off the forecourt as you will have a higher level of cover should the worst happen and you end up in an accident on the way home! 


Be prepared to walk away.

If you don’t find a car which ticks all the boxes, you need time to think or the salesperson is being particularly difficult to deal with, always be prepared to walk away. There are thousands of high quality used cars out there on the market, and there are hundreds of locations to view, test drive and buy them from, so don’t get disheartened if you do have to walk away from a particular one! 


So there we have it, ten top tips for when it comes to buying your first car. We hope that you’ve found this piece informative and entertaining, and wish you the best of luck in the search for your first car!  Don’t forget, if you end up needing replacement number plates for any reason, then you know where to come! 

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