Passing your driving test is an exciting time in most people’s lives, promising new found freedom and independence on the roads. However, in order to drive off into the sunset, you’re going to need your own car, which can pose its own problems for newly qualified drivers.
With lots of makes and models, different engine sizes and trim options, as well as a few dodgy dealers thrown into the mix, working out which car suits you can be a difficult task.
So, we’ve taken a look at some of the things it’s important to consider when searching for your first car.
New or used?
The first thing you need to consider when looking for your first car is whether you want to buy new or used, as the quality of the car will differ accordingly.
New will obviously set you back a bit more money to start with, but will come with a long-term warranty and be covered legally should anything go wrong a few months (or even years) down the line. It will usually have the most recent technology and be in factory condition, so will be without any faults.
Used, on the other hand, will usually be of a lower quality and have some wear and tear. This will obviously reduce the price but could end up costing a bit more further down the line should it develop a fault. They usually come without a warranty, or only a very short one, meaning you will have to foot the bill.
This post by Confused.com can give you more information on your legal rights with used cars.
When buying your first car, it’s vital that you ensure it comes with full documentation to confirm its status. This includes a V5C logbook, service history and proof of the most recent MOT. If any of these things are missing it could mean, at worst, that the car isn’t legal or, at best, that the seller is a bit dodgy.
You can also check out a car’s status using the government car checker.
Ways to lower insurance premiums
Most people purchasing their first car will be on a budget, so you will want to be looking for a car with qualities that will reduce insurance premiums. This will include having a car with a smaller engine and a more basic model. You can also add in features like a ‘black box’ which monitors your driving to potentially reduce insurance costs.
Some modifications can also increase insurance rates so it’s important to watch out for any non-manufacturer parts that have been added by previous owners. Speaking to Volkswagen parts dealers, VW Motor Parts, they said: ‘It’s essential to check that the car is still in line with the original manufacturer’s specification, as buying non-genuine parts and making modifications can have a real impact on your finances.’
You can also choose a car that will reduce your tax rates by buying a car with lower CO₂ emissions.
It’s important to make sure your car has high-quality safety features. Whilst this can be more difficult with older, used cars, you need to check that all safety aspects are in working order, including the braking system, airbags, and steering, which can usually done during a test drive.
This post by The Independent has more details on safety aspects for first cars.
Overall condition of the car
The most important qualities of first cars are their functional day-to-day aspects and, whilst this is most important when buying used cars, there are a number of things to check.
You should check the mileage of the car to ensure it adds up to the car’s age, as well as checking the tread of all the tyres, including the spare one. Testing all the lights is also important, including brake lights, headlights, and indicators, to ensure they’re in full working order. During a test drive, you should check for any unusual noises, smooth gears or any starting problems.
This post can give you some more tips for inspecting a car before buying.