What do I need to know when buying my first car?
The excitement of buying your first car can quickly be overwhelmed by information overload. With
so many different makes and models of vehicles available, how would you know which to get?
Should you go for used or brand-new? How do you know whether the dealer you have chosen is
reliable and trustworthy?
First think about your budget. You should have a rough idea of what you can afford to pay for your
car, but also what you can afford across the year. Running costs for a car will include tax,
insurance, MoT, maintenance and repairs, and fuel costs.
Now look at what make and model of car you want. For most first-time car buyers, you will
probably be looking at a small car or a small family car. At this point, remember that safety,
reliability and economy are more important than speed or appearance. You may have set your heart
on a beetle or a mini, but don’t dismiss other types of car until you’ve fully considered how well
they meet your requirements. Shortlist a few different models of car and then do your research
carefully. Check what tax band the cars fall into (cars registered before 2001 are banded according
to fuel type and engine size, after 2001 the banding is based on CO2 emissions). Check the
insurance group of your chosen models – the higher the power and value of the car, the higher the
insurance group and therefore the cost of insurance will be. Look at reviews of the different cars to
find out more about their reliability and handling, and any common faults.
Your next step is to choose whether to buy used or new, and where to buy from. For a first-time
buyer, a quality used car is much better value than a brand-new car, as cars depreciate in value a lot
during the first year, without a corresponding drop in reliability or quality. When buying a used car
you can choose between franchised dealer, independent dealer, auction or a private seller.
Franchised dealers offer the best protection for you as a buyer, they will have carried out
comprehensive checks on the vehicle, and will offer good after-sales service. An independent
dealer will usually offer a wide range of cars for different budgets, but quality and after-sales
service will be variable, so if possible go on personal recommendation, and ask lots of questions to
make sure you get the best possible vehicle and service. Auctions and private sellers offer a lot less
legal protection, with the phrase “sold as seen/described” a catch-all get-out clause.
It’s your responsibility to check to make sure that the car you are buying is safe to drive, good
quality, not stolen and does not have any outstanding finance on it.
ALWAYS take a car out for a test-drive and give it a good check-over before you make a deal,
taking somebody who knows about cars with you if you are unsure.
Check: for rust on the body work and under the wheel arches; pull out the dipstick, the oil should be
fairly transparent, not black; the floor for oil patches that might indicate a leak; that the engine looks
clean and fairly well maintained; tread on the tyres; the paperwork, this should include a service
history with a date and stamp of regular services and receipts for work carried out; listen for knocks,
squeaks and rattles when the engine is on; look out for any engine warning lights; you can check
on-line to see the MoT history, which includes the registered mileage at each MoT test; make sure
that VIN (Vehicle Identification Numbers) etched into the chassis, windows etc. all match and show
no signs of tampering; look at the V5 certificate, ensuring that it shows the correct car, number
plate, VIN numbers and name and address of the seller, as a missing certificate, any alterations or
incorrect details may indicate that the car is stolen; get a car-history check on-line for just a few
pounds to check that the vehicle doesn’t still have outstanding finance on it which could lead to the
vehicle being seized; get an insurance quote for the vehicle, to be sure that the insurance is within
Finally, if you are confident that this is the vehicle you want, make an offer to the dealer. Do not
pay the ticket price. Always negotiate a reduction in the cost, an extended warranty, full tank of
fuel or some extras. If the dealer isn’t prepared to drop the price, leave them your phone number
and ask them to call you if they change your mind. Unless you’ve been really cheeky, they will.
To find out more about learning to drive in Glasgow contact TX Driver Training now on 0141 764