As with so many other ‘firsts’ in life, you’ll only ever have one first car. Chances are it probably won’t be particularly pretty and it’ll undoubtedly have a few knocks and bruises but together you’ll make some (hopefully) wonderful memories. But as magical an experience as owning your first car can be, the process of actually choosing the right car for you can be quite stressful and if you don’t make the right decision, you could end up being stuck with a vehicle that just isn’t right for you and is costing you more than you can afford.
In this article we’ll be taking you through 10 of the most common pitfall that first timer buyers fall into so that you make the right choice and can pull away from the dealership knowing that you’ve got potentially years of regret free driving ahead of you!
Don’t go overboard with the engine With your first car you don’t want to be looking for ‘power’, you want to be looking for reliability and value for money. Larger engines might seem more attractive and there’s always an element of oneupmanship that can come into play but be smart and stick to a smaller engine if you’re a new driver. The insurance premiums will be significantly larger on an engine over 1.2 litres and they might prove too much to handle for a novice driver. Sticking to a 1.0, 1.2 or even 1.4 litre engine is definitely recommended for first timers.
Don’t turn down a test drive Everything might look good on paper and the car itself might appear to be in pristine condition but you never really know what to fully expect until you actually get behind the wheel yourself. Most car dealerships will allow potential buyers a test drive and you’d be foolish to turn this opportunity down. Of course nerves will no doubt play a significant role here (you might just feel like getting in and getting out as quickly and with as little fuss as possible) but keep your cool and remember, you’re the one spending the money here and probably quite a lot of it!
Don’t buy online By all means use the internet to do research and even to find cars through sites such as auto-trader, but actually purchasing a car online without first seeing it in person is definitely not recommended. If there are any problems with the car you might not be adequately covered and there’s a chance you could have been scammed.
Find the right insurance There are so many car insurance comparison websites on the market now that it can seem an almost impossible task to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Chances are that as this is your first car you will probably be between the ages of 17 and 25 and insurance rates for young drivers have unfortunately never been higher. This means that you could possibly be adding thousands a year onto your running costs so insurance will be one of the key aspects you should consider.
Don’t buy a heavily modified car If you’re friends cars are all kitted out to the nines with spoilers, deafening exhausts and neon lighting then… you should probably find new friends. Seriously though purchasing a modified car is always a bad idea. The extra insurance will be astronomical and many of the modifications might have actually damaged the cars reliability.
Always check the mileage One of the key things you should be looking for is how many miles the car you’re purchasing already has on the clock. Obviously this is only true if you’re buying a used car, but considering the expense of brand new cars (unless you consider going the finance route) it’s very unlikely that you’ll be getting your first motor straight from the factory floor. If the car has done any more than 100,000 miles you should probably give it a miss unless you don’t intend on using it extensively.
Don’t neglect to check the paperwork All used cars should be sold with a full service history, which should give you some idea as to how many problems the car has had in the past. Check over the paperwork with friends or family and make absolutely sure that everything is in order.
Don’t exceed your budget If you only have £2000 to spend, don’t be glamoured by the salesman and go over budget. If anything you’ll want to go as much under budget as possible so you’ll have some left over to deal with any problems that might arise.
If you’re buying second hand, buy from a reputable source Don’t take salesman at their word, be sure to fully vet any potential sellers thoroughly. Thankfully the internet has provided a constantly evolving forum for customers to rate dealerships and private owners and if you’re going local you should always trust word of mouth.
Don’t forget to have your car checked over Finally, once you’ve finalised the purchase, get a mechanic or a friend/family member well schooled in car repair to check over your new vehicle before you take it onto the road.