Have you recently passed your test? If so, you’re probably champing at the bit and raring to get out on the roads and enjoy your new-found freedom. The trouble is that you need a car to be able to do this. If you’ve been learning in your dad’s motor or you’ve only had your instructor’s car to practice in, it may be time to consider buying your first car. If you love cars, and you understand every abbreviation out there, you shouldn’t find it difficult to find the perfect car. However, if you’re not mad on cars, the prospect of trying to narrow down your options and make that final decision may be daunting. If you’re gearing up to buy your first car, here are some tips to guide you through the process and help you navigate your way through sales jargon.
Choosing a make and model: what to consider
If you don’t know the first thing about cars, the best thing to do is visit some dealerships, which sell a broad spectrum of makes and models. This way, you can have a look at a wide range of options, see what you like the look of, and learn more about what the different vehicles offer. If you’re already a keen motorist, you may think you know exactly what you want, but be open-minded, and have a scout around anyway. It’s important that you make the right choice, and you may find that you change your mind when you have different cars in front of you.
There are many factors, which may influence your choice of make. If you’re a first-time driver, you’re probably looking for something reliable and affordable, rather than a supercar. You may find that you’re more inclined to look at Fords, Volkswagens, Audis, Citroens, Seats, and Vauxhalls rather than Mercedes, Porsches, and Ferraris.
Setting a budget
Once you’ve got an idea of the kind of car you want, you can think about the budget. If you’re choosing to buy a car outright, you’ll need to make sure you can cover the cost of the purchase up-front. If you don’t want to do this, but you do want to own the car, you can take out finance and spread the cost of the car over a period of time. If this option sounds more appealing, make sure you can afford the monthly repayments before you sign on the dotted line. You may have to put down a deposit first. If you’re not bothered about owning the car, long-term leasing may be a cheaper alternative.
Once you’ve got a budget in mind, look around for the best deals. Bear in mind that every garage or dealership you go to will want to sell you a car, so be prepared for sales patter. What you need to know when you leave each location is the price available for the car you want. Look out for incentives like deposit contributions and be wary of additional fees that may be added to your quote, such as additional insurance that you may not want. Ask for a written quote based on the information you provide, and a breakdown of costs. Once you’ve got this information from different dealers, you can make a decision with the numbers in front of you. Don’t forget to check insurance costs before you decide.
Choosing a car that suits your lifestyle
When you’re buying a car, it’s important to make sure that you can afford it, but also that it will suit your lifestyle and the kind of driving you do. If your commute to work involves driving around the corner and you very rarely venture onto the highway, you don’t need a car that boasts all the mod cons and a 4-liter engine. You need something that’s compact, fuel-efficient, and easy to park. If you do a lot of driving on the main roads, for example, you work in field sales, pay attention to vehicles that offer fuel-efficiency and look for features like cruise control, which will make driving more comfortable. You may also want to add on features like integrated sat nav and Bluetooth if you drive long distances. The size of the vehicle may also be important. If you spend nearly all your time in the car alone, you probably don’t want an estate or an SUV. Conversely, if you have a family, you’ll need more space than your average hatchback provides.
Enjoying the ride
It’s unwise to buy a car without testing it out first. You may love the look of a car, but find it uncomfortable, difficult to drive or cramped when you’re behind the wheel. Test drive a few different options and see how you get on. You never really know how much you like a car until you’ve taken it for a spin.
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Deciphering the numbers
If you listen to a salesperson in full flow, you’ll come across all kinds of weird and wonderful facts and figures, abbreviations, and letters. If you’re not au fait with the inner workings of a car, this speil can leave you feeling confused and flustered. In the most basic terms, what you need to know when you buy a car is the level of performance you can expect, the fuel-efficiency, how many doors you’ve got, what kind of trunk space is available, and any additional features the car has, which could set it apart from other contenders.
One of the first things a salesperson will tell you is the engine size and the horsepower. If you haven’t got this written down in front of you, and you’re interested in performance and power, you can use horsepower calculators online to compare different models. Horsepower relates to the power of the engine. The higher the figure, the more you’ll get when you accelerate. Horsepower is important if you do a lot of driving at higher speeds or you’re buying a supercar. However, in reality, if you’re looking for a compact run-around, the figure isn’t going to matter too much. The engine size will often vary according to the size and type of the car, but a bigger engine doesn’t always mean that you’re going to go faster or feel more power when you hit the gas pedal. If you’re used to driving an older car, and you swap to a brand new car straight from the factory, you’ll find that a new engine will outperform an old engine even if the older car has a bigger engine.
Another subject worth looking into is fuel efficiency. The higher the mpg figure, the more you’ll get for your money.
If you’re thinking of buying a new car, there’s a lot to think about. Hopefully, this guide will make life a little easier when you get to the forecourt.