The complete guide to buying your first car as a new driver. If buying your first car feels complicated and need guidance to make the right decision, follow the steps in this post to know what to check before committing to such an important decision.
Disclaimer: This is a paid post for ATS Euromaster for the I Wish I Knew campaign. Whatever informations you will find here is based on my honest opinion, experience and research.
Buying your first car can be an overwhelming decision, especially as a new driver. It might be tempting to choose a cheap vehicle in the beginning to reduce the cost of car insurance, but in the long run, you will end up with a car that you don’t enjoy driving and most likely it will break down in the middle of the journey.
Is vital to have patience when searching for and buying a good car if you want to avoid frequent visits to the mechanic afterwards. You don’t want to save with one hand and spend with two, so take notes because you will need to make the right decision.
Car service is the first thing that you need to be aware of when planning to buy your dream vehicle and will come back to explain why further on in this post.
As an experienced driver now, I feel quite proud of owning a car. I remember the day when I pass the driving test like it was yesterday. So much excitement and joy that it took me a while to realize that I actually have a driving licence.
Obviously, the first thing you want to do after you have your driving licence is to buy a car. In my case I didn’t want to rush because I already had insurance for driving my partner’s car, so all I wanted was to find a good basic vehicle to move from A to B without problems.
The cost of owning and maintaining a car can be over the course of its lifetime can be astonishing, and without proper guidance is hard to know what you want or need.
In this guide, we will cover everything from the initial research to purchasing and financing your new car, so that you can make an informed decision and buy your first car with confidence.
Beforehand, remember that a car is not an investment but an expense, unless you are a car collector and planning on buying a classic one or a brand-new car, I don’t see any reason for spending a fortune for a car.
What you need to know before buying your first car as a new driver:
When I first started looking for a vehicle, I had to clarify a few important things that helped me narrow the search for a good car.
First, you have to check if the vehicle you want to buy has been involved in an accident or other form of crime
Decide if you want to buy a manual or automatic car
Semi-automatic or automatic cars like DSG, are in high demand and more expensive than fully automatic or manual ones.
How powerful engine do you want your car to be
A small engine will help when you buy car insurance for the first time. Powerful engine cars will automatically have a higher insurance cost.
Are you going to choose financing or a used car?
Both options have advantages and disadvantages. Financing will hook you into paying monthly for a few years and if you decide at the end of the contract to keep the car you might have to pay something extra.
The main advantage of choosing to finance is that the car comes with a few years of cover, so you have no other payments other than the monthly instalments, whereas a used vehicle, requires a one-time payment and you own it. The only expenses you have afterwards are insurance, car servicing, and of course fuel.
How much do you want to spend when buying a car?
If you choose financing, you will have a fixed monthly payment, whereas used cars may require more investment and I’m not only talking about the cost of the car.
I choose to buy a used car and I couldn’t be happier. I’m not keen on paying monthly instalments for a brand-new car knowing what the price of fuel is nowadays.
Before buying your first car, you can get a quote from insurance comparison sites to have an idea of what the cost might be, even before deciding to buy the actual vehicle.
The cost of car insurance will vary dramatically based on a few factors. Your age, the car make and model, and a few other things can impact the price. The good news is that with each year, your insurance price will drop, but only if you keep your driving licence free of penalty points and no claim has been made.
I strongly suggest buying a breakdown cover too, you never know when you might need to be rescued.
Any car needs good maintenance. The oil needs to be changed every year, and tyre pressure check is a must before you even get in the car.
Every year when you book an MOT, professionals from ATS Euromaster will advise you if you need to change the tyres or if there is anything else that needs replacing.
From my experience as a driver, I advise anyone to book servicing for every little warning sign on the dashboard and not just that. Even signs of corrosion need to be dealt with as soon as possible before the problem gets worse.
I made the mistake of ignoring a few corrosion signs around my car and each year those patches got bigger and bigger until I decided to fix this problem.
Basically, owning a car comes with a set of responsibilities. Keeping the number plates clean, the exhaust and other things that need to be taken care of will put you on the safe list of not being fined by authorities.
What I’ve listed above are some of the main things that you have to clarify before searching for a car. The next guide is for things you need to look out for when walking to a car showroom, or meeting with a car dealer.
When I made the decision of buying my first car, I had my partner with me, and together we checked the following things which should be helpful to you also:
There is also the option of buying a hybrid or electric car which comes with advantages and disadvantages.
If you want to buy a hybrid or an electric car as a new driver, you need to know what you are looking for. First of all, find out if this type of vehicle is right for your lifestyle. Buying a hybrid or an electric car is a sound investment if you want to save money on gas and care for the environment.
Electric and hybrid cars are ideal if you live in a city and drive short distances. On the other hand, if you live in the countryside and drive long distances every day, an electric car might not be the best choice. for you.
Knowing your budget is important in order to decide what vehicle to buy. Electric cars are more expensive than regular petrol-powered cars and as a new driver, it is unlikely that you will be able to afford one unless you go with the financing option.
There are a few government schemes to help you buy an electric car which can be a kickstarter for your journey to owning an electric vehicle. The plus side of choosing an electric car as a new driver is that servicing comes cheaper and you can charge your car for free at the local electric charging points.
After noticing the electric charging points on my street, it made me realize how convenient electric cars can be. I cannot recommend or not electric cars to new drivers, but I know for sure that they are part of our future. The decision is yours to make, according to your lifestyle and the purpose of using it.
Important things you need to check when going to see the car that you want to buy
The mileage on the board
In my personal opinion, mileage is a very important factor when buying a car. A car with plenty of miles onboard indicates that the vehicle has been used excessively.
The MOT certificate
Every car in the UK needs an MOT certificate in order to be fully legal and allowed to drive on public roads. If the car you’re intending to buy doesn’t have an MOT certificate, you may have to hire additional transportation or drive it straight to your local garage to get it checked.
Sign of rust
Corrosion is something that can be fixed
Are the gears going into the gear properly and easily when driving?
Check for residue under the oil cap
Have a closer look at the oil level and check for signs of greasy, white substance under the cap. This type of residue is caused by a failure in the head gasket, which is a seal between the engine block and cylinder head. This can cause oil to leak out of the oil pan and onto the engine.
Make sure the windows are working fine and smoothly. Manual or electric, have an inspection to ensure the windows will roll up and down properly.
The clutch is another important part of the car that needs to be checked before buying a car
A healthy clutch should feel sturdy and any noise coming from that point is a sign that something is going on.
Have a look for signs of mould and dampness in the trunk. Also, every car should be equipped with the first aid and puncture kit. Lift the underneath floor of the trunk to see if you can find a jack and the spare tyre.
Car service history
Ask the seller when was the last time the timing belt service has been changed. Most cars do have a timing belt and it has got limited-service life. Failing to service the timing belt can lead to expensive repairs. Not every car comes with a timing belt, some have a chain that doesn’t require servicing like the other type of cars.
Open the bonnet and check if there is any tape on the wires
Tyres type and condition
Have a quick inspection on the tyres’ condition and the replacement cost for the vehicle you are interested in.
That’s pretty much it! I tried to summarize and include everything I did when I went through the process of searching for and buying a car. I hope that this guide will be a good resource when deciding which car is best for you as a new driver so that the process of buying one will be less daunting.