Every first-time motorist wants something that expresses their personality and suits their needs, but that doesn’t mean your vehicle choice will be the most practical or easy to find within your budget.
To guide you through the complex world of car-buying, Warranty Direct has put together some advice on essential considerations for first-time buyers.
Consider running costs
Buying and running a car is expensive for anyone but especially so for new drivers, who will have to shell out for a suite of essentials all in one go. Look at your monthly income, consider your current outgoings and then plan what you can afford.
You need to account for unavoidable costs, such as car insurance, Tax, MOT, fuel and tyres. Services such as the Money Advice Service Car Costs Calculator can give you an average running cost of a car so you can see roughly if you’ll be able to afford the overall spend.
Insurance for first-time drivers can be expensive as you’re among the least experienced drivers on the road. To find out which cars have a low insurance rating, use online tools such as Money Supermarket’s car insurance group checker.
Think about how you use it
When weighing up your options, you need to see which car best matches your lifestyle.
Is it a simple A-B run-around you’re after? If so, you may want to think about getting a small car with an engine size of about 1L. Or will you need a vehicle for regular, long journeys? Then a car with good fuel economy and a slightly larger engine would be better, especially if you’ll be driving on motorways.
However, make sure to do your research as similar cars can often have very different insurance groups, which can increase overall costs.
New or Used?
Although initially more expensive, newer cars are normally more advanced in terms of safety, technology and fuel efficiency in comparison to older cars. This could save you money in the long-term.
While low-rate finance schemes with modest monthly payments have brought new cars within reach of younger people, you need to be sure you can keep up with the monthly payments as missing any can affect your credit rating and your car could be repossessed.
In addition, a new car can lose around 40% of its value in the first year, so you may be left out of pocket when you go to sell it later.
Used cars are cheaper initially and you could get more for your money, buying a top of the range older model for a similar price as a basic spec new car.
Accidents do happen and one in four 18-24 year-olds crash within two years of passing their practical driving test, so picking a vehicle that’s both safe and practical is important.
Look out for characteristics such as light steering, a responsive engine and brakes and user-friendly controls. These will help all new drivers build confidence behind the wheel.
Once you have a vehicle shortlist, use tools such as our Reliability Index to see which are the most reliable. This will help you to avoid expensive maintenance issues further down the line.