Tips on buying your first car

3 key things to think about before buying your first car!

So you’ve passed your test and have saved up enough to start thinking about buying your own car.

It’s an exciting time and you’ll probably be fantasising about nipping around town in a sporty cabriolet. But the truth is, your first car is probably going to be a lot less flashy –when you look at the reality of the cost, taking into account not just the price of the car itself, but maintenance, fuel and insurance.

We know that buying your first car can be a confusing time, but if you do your research and consider the following points, it’s easy to avoid making an expensive mistake.

Budgeting for your first car

No one likes the word – but it’s important that you budget well to save yourself stress and nasty surprises in the future. How much can you realistically spend on a car right now? And how much can you put aside each month for motor-related expenses? These include:

  • Fuel
  • Tax
  • MOTs and services
  • Repairs
  • Parking
  • Cosmetic upkeep

… and insurance.

Obviously not all months will be the same in terms of costs, so it’s good to make an estimate of your yearly expenses and divide the total by 12. Of course, if you’ve never had a car before, this might seem like an impossible task. The best thing is to talk to someone sensible who’s owned a car for years and has a good head for numbers. They may also be able to warn you about some of the hidden costs of car ownership.

New or second-hand?

When it comes to buying your first car, this can seem like a major question. But the fact is, for a young person living on a normal salary, there’s only one real answer. A brand new car might wow your friends and be your most exciting purchase ever – but in financial terms it makes very little sense.

As well as being much more expensive to start with, new cars depreciate massively once they’re on the road, especially in their first year. So if you’re looking for something modern and shiny, you’re much better off buying last year’s model.

What’s more, a slightly older car, while almost as reliable, will cost you less to insure. Statistically, your first few months of driving are when you’re most likely to have an accident. Coupled with an expensive new car, that will be a red flag to insurance companies. Will they insure you? Yes. Will you pay through the nose for it? You bet!

Finding the best first car for you

It’s tempting to think in terms of what looks and sounds good. But what are you actually going to use your car for, when, and where? If you’re going to be parking in a city, do you really want to be stressing about dents and scratches? Likewise, if you’re going to be commuting in heavy traffic, have you thought about the relationship between engine size and fuel costs?

Again, you should talk to a range of car owners and compare their experiences. Friends and relatives can help you avoid some of the mistakes they made when buying a first car. Questions to ask could include:

  • How much does a full tank of petrol/diesel cost?
  • Are there any features or factors they wished they’d considered before buying their car?
  • How much have spare parts cost and how easy have they been to get hold of?
  • How much do they pay in insurance?

Enjoy yourself!

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the process. Think of it as an important step in a driver’s life. You can collect all kinds of motor-related facts to wow your friends. And you never know, they might buy you a pint in exchange for your expertise when it comes to buying their first car!