I don't drive. I've never gotten round to learning or had the spare income to pay for lessons/tests/cars and the such. Then, when I fell pregnant with Bert hubby and I decided that one of us needed to learn, and learn fast. I didn't fancy going through the stress of lessons etc while pregnant so hubby stepped up to the mark, and in the May before Bert was born in the August he passed his test and we bought our first family car.
We knew nothing about cars, so Liam took his mum and stepdad along with him for car shopping advice - after all they've been driving for years and years: both with plenty of experience when it comes to buying a car.
With their support we went for a second hand Suzuki Liana GLX and it was obviously a good choice as it has been such a brilliant, reliable family car over the past 3 years. In fact, I'll be totally gutted when it finally gives up the ghost - hopefully we'll get many more years out of it yet...
So, if you're new to car-buying, whether you're buying brand-new (lucky you!) or second hand, what do you need to consider?
Before you even get anywhere near a car showroom or even start reading car road test reviews, there’s some important groundwork to do to when it comes to buying a new car. A car purchase can, if you’re not careful, turn into a hazardous cocktail of heavy expense mixed with a strong emotive influence. Put simply, if you fall in love with a particular car and you may neglect important other factors in a bid to get behind the wheel.
By establishing certain pointers before the seductive process of visiting showrooms and taking test drives starts, you can keep focused on buying the best car to suit your needs and your budget.
The old saying ‘time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted’ is certainly true during the car buying process, and it can save time and heartache in the long run. Consider the following:
Set a budget. If buying outright, then obviously the ‘sticker price’ of the car applies but if you’re buying with some sort of finance such as a bank loan, HP (Hire Purchase) or a PCP (Personal Contract Plan) then the focus may be on how much per month can you afford as a repayment.
Be strict with yourself here as it’s easy to think a bit extra per month won’t hurt to get that next model up the range or to have a few more extras but that’ll only be true if you can genuinely afford it.
Consider all of the finance options and which suits you best.
Clarify your requirements
By having a checklist, and making sure your potential purchases measure up, you’re likely to end up with a suitable car.
For example, if you haven’t checked something as simple as the boot space properly then it’s going to be pretty frustrating if you can’t, say, fit the baby’s buggy or your golf clubs in the boot.
Ask yourself what your essential requirements are and don’t overlook something that may be important; for example, will they cope with lessons in that big SUV you fancy?
Prepare a shortlist
Choose cars for your shortlist based on your requirements and budget and then and get an idea of the ‘going rate’ in the market.
Be careful here and consider the whole package.
Depreciation - the largest single running cost that only bites when it’s time to sell. While some models might be attractively priced new, what’s their depreciation record like? Savings made on new models can be eaten up by a heavily depreciating car, and many lose more than 50% of their value after 3 years.
Fuel type - diesel or petrol? Maybe a hybrid or even an electric car? Do the maths here: a common error made by many buyers is to opt for a diesel car because of the favourable fuel consumption. Many of these people never really save in the long run because they don’t do enough miles to offset the usually higher purchase price.
Servicing and maintenance - what might it cost to service over the first three years? Be careful with wheel options; for example run flat tyres are very expensive to replace.
Insurance - what will your shortlist of cars cost to insure? Check with your insurer and with others on a comparison site. It’s easy to do this online and a few short clicks prevents a nasty surprise down the line.
Buy with confidence
Doing your ‘due diligence’ first will undoubtedly help you make the best choice and not overlook anything. Overall, it will help you not to get blown off course when you’re seeing and experiencing your shortlisted cars for real.
I hope that's been helpful and has made you consider things you might not have before when it comes to purchasing such an important and expensive item.
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