So you’ve just passed your test and you’re looking for your very first car, how exciting! It must be tempting to splash out on an expensive automatic Audi you’ve been eyeing up since you started learning, but there are a few things you need to think about before diving in head-first. You can save time and money by asking yourself these 5 questions:

1) Manual or automatic?

This depends on which type of driving test you did; if you opted for an automatic-only test, then obviously you will be limited to automatic cars. However, with the manual test, you will have the option. As enticing as the thought of driving a car without having to operate gears is, it is better to opt for a manual as your first car; it will enable you to fully get used to operating gears and will give you more control throughout your first few years of driving. Generally, manual cars are also cheaper to buy. Of course, nothing is stopping you from buying an automatic if you want to!

2) What will the car be used for?

What you need a car for will probably have a heavy weighting on what you ultimately get. Ensuring you make the most practical decision can save you a lot of money; only need it to commute? No children? Mostly driving on the weekend? Ask yourself these questions and see if your choice fits with how the car will be used in daily life. This is a question you will be asked when applying for insurance , so ask yourself if you really need that 5-litre supercharged Land Rover, or will a 1-litre run-around do the trick?

3) Ideally, how much do you want to spend on a car?

With all the different makes and models of cars available, there are thousands of options for you to choose from. Having a set budget in mind will aid you significantly in your search for the perfect vehicle – looking for cars only in your price range eliminates most of these confusing selections as well as reducing the temptation to spend more than you can afford. Keep in mind: you will also have to pay for tax and insurance before even taking your car home, and for petrol, MOTs and services to keep it running. These are not cheap, especially for a more upmarket car, so being realistic about what you can afford for potentially the next 5 years is an essential part of car hunting.

4) Have you considered the cost of insurance?

Insurance should be a massive consideration as there are so many factors that can affect the cost of your premiums. In terms of the car itself, factors such as the age of the car, lifetime mileage, service history, and engine size all have an impact on what insurance rates you’ll be offered. If you want to learn more specifically about car insurance, click here for our article all about it.

5) Who are you buying from?

As tempting as it is to buy a cheaper car you have seen on eBay or Gumtree, this may not be the best idea – if the car is faulty in some way when you purchase it, the original owner may not provide you with much support especially as the car wouldn’t have come with a warranty. A safer option is to find a proper dealership to buy your car from. They generally have their cars checked regularly for faults and, in general, provide warranties for at least two years. If you do decide to buy privately, some companies sell warranties for cars such as this one.

By this point, you have considered your answers to these questions in your head. You should have a clearer picture of your search for your first car. The process of purchasing is a long and arduous one, but as long as you ensure you are well informed and firm about what you want out of your shiny new wheels, you will end up with the perfect car for you.

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Last Updated by Robert Edwards, June 2022

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