Guide to buying a new car

Guide to buying a new car


If you’re interested in buying a new car follow our step-by-step checklist to help you get value for money on the car you want.

What car do you want?

Before worrying about the make, model or even price of your new car, you need to work out what you need from your car.

  • Do you need a big 4x4 for your camping trips?
  • Do you need to be able to carry a lot of people?
  • Do you live in the city and need small car you can squeeze into tiny spaces?

Think about how you will use your car and what features are going to be important to you.

What’s your budget?

You need to have a clear idea of what you can afford. There’s a lot more to consider than just the price. For example:

  • How much will insurance cost? – Call your insurer, tell them the make and model of the cars you are considering and they will be able to give you a quote.
  • How much will you pay in road tax each year? – You can use the government’s car tax rate calculator  to find this out.
  • How much will you be spending on petrol? – Work out how far you drive each month, check the predicted average fuel economy (usually available from manufacturer websites or dealership) and calculate how much you would be likely to spend.

The car

Of course you will want to see the car before you drive, so it’s a good idea to have some questions in mind when you are inspecting it: 

  • Do you like the look of the car? – A new car is an investment so make sure you’re keen on how it looks.
  • Which engine do you want? –Variations of engine size and fuel type will affect everything from how the car drives to the cost of insuring and running it.
  • What features does the car have as standard? – New cars tend to have quite sophisticated technology as standard now, so if those are important to you look for parking cameras, keyless entry and satellite navigation.
  • Are there any special safety features? – Each car should have the Euro NCAP safety rating on show, there may be specific features like Antilock Brakes or Electronic Stability Control too.
  • Which optional extras are you looking for? – Decide what you need as each upgrade, such as alloy wheels, will cost you money.

Test drive

You can read all the reviews, take in all the advice, but you won’t know how you feel about the car until you get behind the wheel.

  • Get a demonstration – Chances are a new car will work differently from your current one, see how it starts, how to adjust the seat, how the radio works or anything which is important to you, so you can make a fair comparison.
  • More than a drive – Most of us spend a lot of time in our cars and are looking for more than just a driving experience. Test everything, push all the buttons, flick the switches, check the storage compartments and get a feel for the rest of the car.
  • How does it feel? – You don’t need to be an expert to know if you enjoy driving a car, but pay attention to how it is to park as this can be a pain if you’re stuck with a car which is tricky to manoeuvre. 

If you’re still unsure after your test drive, ask the dealer if you can hire the model you’re looking at.

The contract

When it comes to signing, read your contract carefully

  • Finance - You may be offered a lot of different payment and finance options, but it’s generally quite simple. For more information on how to pay for your new car, go to our Car Finance FAQs page where we take you through the basics and the benefits of borrowing options.
  • Check the warranty agreement – Check the length, what is included and how they will deal with any issues that you may have in the future.

Make sure you keep these points in mind when buying a new car. Do your research, know who you’re dealing with and know your rights.




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