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Buying Your First Car

What do you need to know?

Other than your home, your car is likely to be your most expensive purchase. It`s a daunting prospect but buying a car needn`t be a nightmare if you follow some simple hints:

  1. Don't let heart rule head
    It sounds basic but while you may have no intention of buying something that`s out of your price range or doesn`t fit your means it can change very quickly when you see that Mini Cooper 'project' with a good few miles on the clock. If you have the hours, knowledge and income to put into doing up a relic then by all means buy that project, but if you`re honest with yourself you should probably buy something sensible.
  2. Buy a car with a smaller engine
    It`s tempting to get something that you can roar away from the traffic lights with but new drivers with large engines mean high insurance premiums. Save money by getting a 1.3 litre engine or lower. Newer cars in particular sometimes are eligible for lower tax if they qualify for the low emissions bracket.
  3. Buy new
    A brand new car has the advantage of you having no doubt of its history and many manufacturers offer warranties as standard. Some offer up to 5 years warranty which will give you piece of mind.
  4. Buy used
    If your budget is under £5000 it's nigh-on impossible to buy a new car anyway. You can often find some great bargains on the used and nearly-new market. A car loses a large chunk of its value the second it leaves the forecourt so buy something with a handful of miles on the clock and save a bundle on its new price.
  5. Look at fuel economy
    From gas guzzlers to cars that are emissions free, each vehicle has a different fuel economy. If you do a lot of motorway driving you'll want a car that has good fuel economy. Diesel cars usually have higher fuel economy and modern diesel engines are cleaner than they used to be. If you want to really want to save money, look in to a hybrid car or even an electric car (particularly great for city driving).
  1. Get a copy of your personal credit report
    Be aware of your credit rating, especially if you`ll be buying on hire purchase.
  2. Research your vehicle's maintenance costs
    It`s not just the fuel and insurance that can cost you money when you buy a car. If your vehicle needs repairs the costs can really vary depending on the car you buy. Research the costs of a typical repair job before you buy. A regular service is vital to keep your car on the road year on year so look at how much this will be setting you back too.
  3. Lease or buy?
    Leasing means you pay a monthly fee to 'own' a car which you then keep after a certain amount of time e.g. 5 years. You can sometimes exchange the car for a new model after a couple of years. If you have regular employment it's a great way of owning a brand new car. Alternatively, if you want to own the car from the start you're better off buying outright.
  4. Look into the car's safety features
    Safety on the road has never been more vital. Modern cars are now equipped with everything from head restraints, dual airbags and anti-lock brakes amongst other things. Older cars don't always have this so do your research.
  5. Ask questions
    Like choosing a uni or buying a house, purchasing a vehicle can be a huge step with loads of important decisions. Educate yourself and have no fear! As well as your online research you can ask dealers questions and they should be understanding of your needs. If they`re not listening to you - walk away. Whether your first car is a brand new BMW or a used fiat you'll be well-equipped to buy.