What to Know When Buying Your First Car

Buying a car for the first time can be a daunting proposition. There are many factors to consider and it’s a good idea to think carefully before committing yourself, have a look at our tips to help you get started. Know Your Budget If you have £5000 in the bank then your budget to spend on the car isn’t £5000. You need to have enough left over for an MOT, insurance, petrol, road tax, servicing and repairs.

Shop Around Don’t buy the first car you test-drive. Shop around! There are plenty of bargains out there in the car market but they can take some finding. Consult price guides to find out how much you should be paying for a particular car. If you don’t know much about cars, then take someone with you who does. There are three main ways to buy your first car: from a private seller, from a dealer and through an auction.

Buying from a Dealer

This is the least risky way of buying a car as it provides the best legal protection. However, there are some shady dealers out there so try to buy from an established company, preferably one that has been recommended to you. If you can, buy from a garage whose vehicles have been inspected by the RAC or AA and ask the dealer for the report relating to the car you are considering. These reports aren’t as detailed as the checks you can pay to have done yourself but many larger dealers have quality-checking schemes which do provide some useful information.

Buying from a Private Seller

Cars from private sellers should be a fair bit cheaper than their equivalents from a dealer. However, the risks are greater. The car could be stolen or it might have been used as security for a hire agreement or short-term loan and officially belong to a finance company.

You also have fewer legal rights when you buy privately. If the private seller misleads you about the condition of the vehicle then you are able sue them for losses, providing you can find them. Some dealers have been known to pretend that they are private sellers in order to avoid most of their legal obligations. Scammers such as these often advertise in local shop windows and newspapers and may be trying to sell on their faulty or over-priced stock.

Signs You Should Look For

 Advertisements that have a mobile number or that state a specific time to call. – If the same telephone number is on several ads. – When you call concerning the car, the vendor asks ‘which one?’- The seller asks to bring the vehicle to you or to meet you somewhere as opposed to meeting at the seller’s home.

Buying at Auction

It is possible to pick up some bargains at car auctions but you need to have some idea of how they work before taking the plunge. Go along to an auction or two before you go to buy. Your legal rights will most likely be much reduced at an auction, with many sellers issuing disclaimers such as ‘sold as seen’. Make sure you read the auction house’s terms and conditions and take someone who knows about cars and has some mechanical knowledge with you. Set your budget and stick to it, don’t be tempted to pay over the odds as you will regret it once the buzz of the auction wears off.

General Tips

When Looking at a Car View the car in daylight, always have a test drive and take an expert with you. Try to avoid accident-damaged cars, for a fee of around £3 you can check a car’s history using your mobile phone. Make sure you check the condition of the car thoroughly. During a test drive, check that the brakes are smooth and effective; are there any clunks or rattles?

If the car is older than three years, then check that the MOT certificate is valid. A full service history is always reassuring so don’t forget to ask to see the service record, and make sure that it matches up with the registration document. Don’t forget, it’s also a good idea to get an insurance quote before you go ahead and buy a car so that you can factor in the cost. To get an idea of insurance costs, you can use a comparison website such as moneysupermarket.com to get the best price.

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