Whether you’ve just turned 17 and are shopping for your first ride or are an older motorist looking to get behind the wheel, buying a first car is an exciting milestone. There’s lots to think about, which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide covering what to look for when buying a first car. From mileage and models to shopping around for finance, read on to find out more about what you should prioritise when buying your first set of wheels.
New vs second hand
Whether to purchase new and savour that ‘new car smell’ or unlock the savings that come with a second-hand vehicle is one of the first questions to ask yourself when considering what to look for when buying a first car.
Budget will likely be a big factor, with recent data from GoCompare revealing the average new driver spends around £5,000 on their first car. This suggests most new motorists opt for used models, which can be a great way to save money and stretch your budget further. While several factors have pushed up demand and prices for used cars over the past few years, the good news is analysts expect the market to cool off soon.
Mileage and wear and tear
If you’re thinking about the second-hand route, mileage will be a big factor when considering what to look for when buying a first car. The odometer paints an instant picture of how far the car has driven and what kind of life it’s had.
In the UK, the average motorist racks up around 10,000 miles per year. So, a two-year old car should have around 20,000 miles on the odometer to be considered average mileage. Anything more would push it into the high mileage category and anything less into the low mileage category.
Of course, maintenance and servicing play a big role in the overall condition of the car and the engine. Both are important variables to consider when making your list of what to look for when buying a first car. For example, while a three-year old car with 50,000 miles on the odometer may be considered high mileage, if it’s in immaculate condition and comes with a flawless servicing history it could be a fantastic deal.
Similarly, if you’re looking at a seven-year-old car with 40,000 miles on the odometer but the vehicle appears bruised, battered and has no servicing history to speak of, you may want to think twice about whether it’s a good deal.
New cars are always a tempting option, offering not just an ultra-fresh aroma but also reliability and peace of mind. Many new cars come with free servicing and warranties, which means you won’t have to think about forking out for these expenses for several years. Initially, the higher price tag of new cars may seem to push them out of your budget. But if you consider finance, a new car could be well within your reach as a new motorist. More on this later!
Petrol powered vs electric
If you’re thinking about a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, emissions are worth considering as they can affect things like how much road tax you pay and even where you’re allowed to drive in some cities.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of personal transport, with more than 400,000 pure-electric models humming along British roads in February of this year. With fuel prices soaring, EVs are more appealing than ever. Not only do EVs unlock huge savings on fuel but they also slash your environmental footprint and carbon emissions. If you’re an eco-warrior looking to tighten your budget, an EV could be a great option for your first car.
With both the national government and local councils continually upgrading EV charge networks across the country, it’s never been easier to drive an electric vehicle. Zap Map is a fantastic resource and makes it easy to find EV charge points at your fingertips. If you’re not fully sold on 100% electric, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) could be a great compromise.
Opting for old favourites
When it comes to cars, British motorists are pretty clear about what they like. If you’re not sure what to look for when buying a first car, taking cues from other drivers can be a great place to start.
The small and zippy Ford Fiesta is consistently crowned one of the best-selling cars in the UK and it’s easy to see why. It’s compact and easy to drive in cities, effortlessly cruising along motorways and slipping into parallel parking spots. It’s also an excellent little ride in towns and villages where you might encounter winding roads and laneways. Alongside the Ford Fiesta are fellow bestselling models like MINI, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Tucson. The latter is a great option if you’re looking for something a little roomier for kids, pets, or both!
A good finance deal
Whether to pay cash or take out a car finance loan is one of the biggest questions you’ll face when buying your first car. There are pros and cons to each and it’s important to consider your own unique circumstances when deciding.
The benefits of buying a new car with cash speak for themselves, with zero interest and no repayments to worry about. That said, it’s an unrealistic option for most new car buyers. This is where finance steps up. Purchasing a car on finance gives you the freedom to increase your budget and get the keys to a car you actually want to drive.
When researching what to look for when buying a first car, a good finance deal should be front of mind. Whether you’re buying new or used, shopping around is one of the most important steps you can take when buying your first car. It’s simpler than you might think, with our purpose-built calculator making it easy to get a car finance quote in a matter of minutes.
Want to know more about how auto finance can help you secure your first car? Get in touch with our friendly team today to discuss your options and find out more about the My Car Credit service.
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