Buying A Car Guide

Many people find buying a car a complicated process, and while it’s true there are lots of things to consider it doesn’t have to be daunting. In this handy car-buying guide we have broken down some of the important things you need to consider to help you with your search.


What sort of car am I looking for?

What are you buying the car for?
Is it a family run around?
Are you looking for something sporty and fun?
Or something cleaner and more environmentally friendly?
Maybe it’s all about the brand for you?
Deciding what’s important to you is key at this stage, there are so many factors that can influence your decision, here we’ve tried to list some of the main ones to consider:

Type of car

The options of vehicle available to you have grown and like everything else in your car buying journey it depends on your needs, but one thing to think about is that the car you buy maybe with you for years and to avoid the expense and research time again it’s worth considering how those needs might change in the near future.

Expert opinions and road test results

YouTube is a rich source of car review videos, but most local and national newspapers and car magazines still have detailed reviews. 

Friends and family

When making big decisions it’s natural to ask those close and trusted people around us. With social media those networks are larger than ever, so it’s worth asking for advice from your nearest and dearest.

Fuel type

Another important decision to consider when buying a new car is what fuel type to choose. This decision has an impact on on-going running costs of the car.

In recent years diesel sales have declined and an increasing amount of manufacturers are offering scrappage schemes to encourage drivers into more environmentally friendly options such as Hybrid and electric vehicles. Depending on what you intend to use the vehicle for it may still be an option to you. It is worth exploring all the options.


All manufacturers are held to high safety standards, and have to regularly test their vehicles in a variety of scenarios. The results of these tests are freely available on the NCAP rating website.


How much can I afford to pay each month? 

Working out your budget is a very important step, and remember it’s not just about finance, what about the running costs of the car such as the fuel consumption, roadside assistance and servicing costs.
Also there are insurance costs which will vary widely depending on your age and driving history.
Car ownership is a significant commitment, it is as important that you consider the on-going costs of the vehicle as well as the initial purchase price.


How much tax?

Many new cars come taxed for the first year but at the start of the second year you will have to register for road tax, the bandings are subject to change so it’s best to check the official DVLRA page to find out the very latest cost associated with the cars you are looking for.


Should you buy a New or Used car?

Once you’ve established how much you can spend per month you can decide whether you can afford to buy a new car or whether it’s best to buy a used car.

When buying a used car, there are extra considerations like what is the age of the vehicle and how many miles has it done. For example would a nearly new car that is only a few years old and still covered by the manufacturers warranty suit you or is it an older vehicle you’re looking for.


What should I consider, if I need to finance the car? 

There are many different ways to fund buying a car, everything from bank loans to the finance products offered by dealers - e.g. Personal Contract Plans, Hire Purchase etc.

Over 80% of cars sold in the UK in 2016* were funded through Personal Contract Plans, which gives you the option to buy the car at the end of your agreement. Some other dealer finance products such as Contract Hire are growing in popularity perhaps because you don’t need a large deposit.

With so many options it can be confusing so we have written this comprehensive guide to the various car finance options.

Once you understand the options finding a way of comparing them to best judge what is the best way forward for you is the next step. Our helpful video will help you identify the key features to base your comparison on.


How do I buy a car?

Now you have decided what type of car you need or want, what your budget is, and also have an idea of how you would raise the money to pay for it. It’s time to visit the dealerships.

Although many car manufacturers are beginning to offer some part of the car buying process online currently the vast majority of new and used cars bought are still bought through a dealer. Some people feel conscious about visiting a dealership but there is no current alternative to getting up close and personal with the car you might be living with day in day out for the next few years. 

With that in mind a key component of getting to know the car you’re thinking of buying is the test drive.


Getting the most out of your test drive 

For some, test-driving a new car is an exciting experience but for others it can be a stressful ordeal, here we provide some tips on how to get the most out of it.

  • Try to drive for at least half an hour on all road types
  • Are you comfortable? Can the seat and steering wheel be easily adjusted and can you reach the controls?
  • Can you get in/out of the car without any issue?
  • If possible, reverse into a space and check all round visibility and blind spots
  • Taking your children with you is a good way of making sure they are comfortable in the back
  • Remember to check the amount of space the car has; is there room for shopping, luggage, and pushchairs etc.?


Know Your Legal rights

When buying a car the same statutory rights laid out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 still apply.

Also although many people are reluctant to deal with dealers, particularly when it comes to car finance, they are actually a highly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which is the same organisation that regulates the banks.

If you are unsure about what you’re signing up for or unhappy with your experience in anyway it’s best to contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau

We hope this guide will help you on your car buying journey, but there is lots of other straight forward, jargon free information about car finance on this website, so if you’re looking for something specific don’t forget to check out the other pages – Good luck!