Buying Your First Car
You have been saving hard to fulfil your dream, owning your first car. But how do you go about it? What's best? We explain the difference between buying a used car from a :-
Decide how much you can afford to pay. Include the cost of insurance, MOT, road tax, petrol, repairs and servicing. Don't rush into a decision. Shop around. Look through price guides to see how much you should expect to pay for the car you want.
If your knowledge of cars is sketchy, use our printable checklist. It gives the main things to look out for when assessing a used car's condition, and tells you the signs that point to a car which has been stolen or clocked (had its mileage altered). As a back up, take someone with you who knows about cars.
Selection of Used Cars
Selection of Young drivers car insurance
Selection of Breakdown and Recovery services
Selection of Finance Available for New Drivers
Buying Your First Car from a Dealer
This is the safest way of buying as you get the maximum protection of the law. But there are dodgy dealers, so look for an established firm with a good reputation. Ask friends if they can recommend anyone.
Look for a garage whose cars have been part-inspected by the AA or the RAC. Ask to see the report on the car you want to buy. It will not be as detailed as one you pay for yourself, but will provide useful information. Or choose a dealer with a quality checking scheme, such as Ford Direct, Rover Direct or Vauxhall's Network Q.
A trade association sign may mean that the firm follows a code of practice. The Retail Motor Industry Federation's Motorline or the Scottish Motor Trade Association can tell you which local dealers subscribe to a code of practice supported by the Office of Fair Trading.
Before buying any car, and especially a used car, it is important to check the car’s condition thoroughly and test it out on the road. How does it feel on the road? Do the brakes provide smooth, reassuring braking? Rattles and 'clunks' will soon reveal themselves, even on a short trip around the block. If the car is more than three years old, check that it has a current MOT which states that the vehicle complies with certain criteria at a given date - it is not, however, a guarantee that any fault which may develop will be put right by the dealer.
A full service history is also very important to ensure that the vehicle has been properly looked after, and check that the mileage is warranted in writing to avoid any potential problems in the future. Ask to see the registration document and service record - does everything match up?
Buying Your First Car from a Private Seller
This should be cheaper than buying from a dealer. It is also riskier. The car may be stolen. It may have been used as security for
short term loans or hire agreement and actually belong to a finance company.
You have fewer legal rights if you buy privately. The car must be as described but the other rules don't apply. If a private seller lies about the condition of a car, you can sue for your losses - if you can find the seller. Some dealers pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal obligations and to get rid of faulty or over-priced cars. They advertise in local newspapers and shop windows.
Signs to look out for include:
Ads which give a mobile phone number or specify a time to call. It may be a public phone box, not the seller's home;
The same phone number appears in several ads;
When you phone about the car, the seller asks 'which one?';
The seller wants to bring the car to you or meet you somewhere, rather than you going to the seller's home.
What Does All This Jargon Mean? We try and explain everything to know about the terminology used by advertisers.
Watch the video below
DVLA's hints and tips on buying a used vehicle and what to look for.
Buying Your First Car from an AuctionYou can pick up a bargain at an auction but you need to know what you are doing. Go as a spectator first and see what happens.
Auctions are probably the riskiest way of buying a used car. Your usual legal rights may not apply if the seller issues a disclaimer, such as the term 'sold as seen', which excludes all or some of those rights. Read the auctioneer's conditions of business carefully to check whether this is the case.
If you don't know much about cars, take someone with you who does. Decide the maximum you can afford and stick to it. The entry form attached to the windscreen will give you an idea of the car's history.
What to look for when buying a carAssess the car in daylight. Take it for a test drive. Our checklist gives an idea of what to look for, but take someone with you if you're not confident about cars.
If a car has been in an accident, it may be unsafe. Sometimes, two damaged cars are welded together to create a new one. These are known as 'cut and shuts' and are almost certainly unsafe. Our checklist tells you some signs which point to accident damage.
For as little as £3 you can do a simple check using your Mobile phone.
2pass has teamed up with TEXTCHECK to introduce a new service which gives vehicle buyers instant car/motor-bike check access to authentic DVLA and POLICE information, as well as serious damage and written-off data from British Insurers.
To use the service, simply text 2pass followed by a space and a valid mainland Great Britain (excluding Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Northern Ireland) vehicle registration number to 83600
Visit our webpage Reg check to your Mobile for more details.
Taking delivery of a 'new' car, even if it is pre-owned, is great fun but please watch out and Good Luck.