Posted on - 24 September 2023

Buying your first car is an exciting milestone in life. You may have recently passed your driving test and looking to get some independence, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. What are you going to do about insurance? Will you need to finance the car? How much money can you afford for fuel every month?

You might be thinking that these decisions seem way too big right now, so let’s focus on what we know- finding our perfect match.  

1. Personal Budget: What is your price range?

To figure out how much car you can afford, take a look at your budget and consider the monthly cost of fuel, car insurance, and any other expenses that you may want to purchase. It would help if you did this before going to a dealership, so you have a range of cars in mind.

Remember you have several things to factor in when thinking about your budget when buying a car. These include finance repayments, insurance costs, running costs (road tax, fuel, servicing and maintenance) and more.

2. Think about how you can fund your first car purchase

How are you going to pay for your first car? You could pay cash or take out a loan. The loan could be a personal loan, through a bank, or a hire purchase style agreement through the motor dealer.

Some people may have cash on hand that they can use for their first car purchase. Others might be eligible for other types of finance where a down payment is given upfront, and the rest of the loan is paid off over time.

Banks can usually offer lower interest rates for personal loans than motor dealers can on hire purchase, particularly on a used car. However, it is worth checking from motor dealer to motor dealer what deals they have available.

Banks finance, and interest rates, will not typically be impacted if the car is new or used. Hire purchase agreements at dealers could see higher interest rates for older cars.

You may be fortunate that you could borrow the money from family or friends. They are usually the most favourable in terms of borrowing costs!

3. Where will you buy your first car from?

If you are lucky enough to be in the market for a brand new car, buying a car will be from a franchised main dealer. Do not forget to check online with the likes of AutoTrader and Carwow. They often have deals from main agents that you may not be offered in person.

If it is a used car you are buying, you could buy from a main dealer, a used car specialist or even privately. All can be considered. However, you will not have access to all dealer facilities, like servicing or finance, if you go down the private route for your first car.

When you are thinking about which may be the best new cars, then both new cars and used cars can be considered.

4. Read Reviews on Cars Online

To stay up-to-date with car reviews. These can be on a review website, car magazines, forums and social media. This step is a worthwhile investment, especially if you buy your first car and are not very knowledgeable about cars.

This will help you to have an idea of what kind of car fits your need. It also can be a valuable guide to see which cars are the most popular or reliable.

Bear in mind people often only post ‘bad’ stuff about their cars. If you see a few moans, it does not always mean all owners hate their cars. It will, however, give you some idea of any common problems that occur.

These common problems can often be rectified, and you can ask if this has been done to a particular car when you are aware of it.

5. Get an Expert Opinion

Ask for help from someone who knows about cars. Ideally, they will have personal knowledge of the vehicle, having owned it in the past or have it now.

Ask family and friends as they will have an opinion on the cars they have owned or know of people who own an example of a car you are considering.

Buying your first car can be a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. By following the tips we’ve provided in this blog post and doing some research on what you’re looking for, you’ll find yourself with a new set of wheels faster than you know! The most important thing is that you trust your gut when making these decisions


6. Meet with Salespeople at Local Dealerships

Get to know your local salespeople. Tell them what you are looking for. Even if they have not got what you want precisely, they can keep an eye out and tell you if something comes up.

You can test drive a few cars before making your final decision. Try as many as you can. See if you can drive them to places that you would typically go. Try them on your driveway, your workplace and anywhere you might typically use a car. You can see if they fit into spaces that you would typically use, like a driveway or parking space.

7. Think about what you need in your first car

We suggest a sensible balance between style, comfort and reliability in your first car. It’s easy to get sucked into looks and gadgetry but not forget the essential things. Get the best value for a budget while you are on a budget.

If your budget is restricted, then you may need to be flexible on your choices. You may not be able to tick every box you want, but it could broaden your options.

Some people can get fixated on the car having the best fuel economy, for example. This may mean they discount petrol cars from their thoughts, and only look at diesel. However, if you are only doing 5 or 6,000 miles a year, the extra cost of diesel fuel could nullify any ongoing savings you may make.

Do you need a manual gearbox or an auto? If you could go with either, then that opens up more choices for your new car.

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