Buying your first car is an exciting experience that can also be overwhelming, especially if you're doing it for the first time; after all, this is probably the most expensive purchase in your life so far. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your first car including budget, where to buy the car from, running costs and make and model.
We recommend making yourself a check list of things that are important to you. For example, do you need sat-navigation? Do you need an eco-friendly car? Do you need Bluetooth to make calls or listen to music? Would you benefit from parking sensors? Some of these questions you’ll be nodding in agreement and others not so much. But when you’re buying your first car you will need to account for all these needs you may have.
When determining your budget you should think about the initial cost of the car, but also take unavoidable costs into consideration such as insurance, tax, MOT and fuel consumption.
Every car has been placed into one of 50 car insurance groups based on its performance, price, safety, security and cost of repairing. The cars in the lower insurance groups will be the cheapest for you to insure, so before you narrow down a make and model you like, you should check what insurance group it sits in. By choosing a car with a small engine (less than 1.4 litres) and in insurance group 1-3, you will get the cheapest insurance quotes possible.
You can also fit a 'black box' to your car which monitors your driving and gives your insurer an indication of how carefully you drive. Some new car manufacturer's have developed finance options that include the cost of a new car alongside insurance, servicing and maintenance for a single monthly payment - for example, Peugeot's scheme is called Just Add Fuel.
For the second year running the Nissan Micra has won overall 'New Car of the Year' at the 2019 First Car awards. The Micra is small but mighty, packed with fantastic features, plenty of space for family and friends alike and an updated stylish look.
Not only is the Micra packed with great features it also has great safety features like autonomous emergency braking and received a five-star saftey rating from Euro NCAP giving that reassurance you need in your first car.
What's more is that the Micra has fuel efficient engines, low insurance groupings making the Micra affordable to run, even on a tight budget.
The Peugeot 108 is a stylish compact car designed with new drivers in mind. Designed with first time drivers in mind, the 108 has great features from the 7" capacitive colour touchscreen, mirror screening featuring Apple CarPlay or Andriod Auto, Bluetooth and steering wheel controls.
The 108 as standard is equipped with many safety features, such as ESP with Hill Assist, ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distributor, Safety door locking and a seatbelt alarm to name a few.
If you're looking for a vehicle with low running costs, insurance and tax without compromising on styles and features than the 108 is your perfect first car.
As the What Car? Car of the Year Best Small Car for less than £12,000, the Sandero is a perfect car for new drivers. The Sandero has a surprisingly spacious cabin with enough room for five adults, plenty of storage and a great sized boot.
The stylish Sandero has a sporting attractive design with day running LED lights without breaking the bank. The Sandero comes with a 1.6 litre petrol engine pr 1.5 dCi diesel engine giving you the ability to cruise easily down the motorway at 70mph.
The Sandero has a host of features alongside being an affordable car to run, insure and to also buy.
Since the release of the Fiat 500 in 2007 it has been extremely popular with new drivers and its clear to see why. This smaller vehicle makes driving comfortable with a host of features including LED Daytime running lights, 15" alloy wheels, rear parking sensors*, 7" Touchscreen radio and Apple CarPlay/ AndriodAuto connectivity*.
The 500 also has a 50/50 split folding seats as standard, allowing extra boot space and making it practical.
*features depending on model make and year
One of the most popular cars in the UK, the Corsa has been a consistent choice for new driver since its been released. The Corsa comes with a host of safety features as standard such as, Anti-lock Braking System, Hill start assist and seatbelt reminders for all seats.
Take a look at our Used stock here.
You've done your research and you know what car you want; now you need to decide where to buy the car from. You have four main options: franchise car dealerships, used car dealerships, private sellers or car auctions.
Private sellers have the potential to be cheaper than car dealerships, but it is unlikely that they will be able to professionally inspect the car before selling it. Similarly, bargains can be found at auctions, but you won't be able to test drive the car or find out what condition it's in before buying it, so making a purchase here is a gamble.
If you're a first time buyer, it is advisable to go to a large and creditable used car dealer or mainstream franchise dealer where they will have a range of cars to suit your budget. At franchise dealers especially, most of the hard work is done for you. They will professionally inspect the car and have all the appropriate paperwork ready before the sale is made.
Another benefit of using a franchise dealership is that they can offer finance deals across both new and used cars. You may be fortunate enough to be in the position to pay for a car upfront; however, you could also opt for car finance which means you can pay for the car across a set period of months, similar to paying for a phone contract.
There are various types of car finance available which you can learn more about here. The most common is Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) where you can choose to put a deposit down, set a number of months to pay an agreed fee that is within your budget and decide whether to pay the balloon payment at the end of the agreement to own the car or just hand it back to the dealer.
The car you've chosen may look good on paper, but the car isn’t driven on paper, you need to actually feel what it is like to drive. Whether you're buying new or used, it's always worthwhile taking a test drive to get a feel for the car.
The test drive should last at least ten minutes and you should drive on a variety of roads, ideally with speed limits that will allow you to get the car up to 70mph to see how it performs at speed. During the test drive you should test electrical features such as the windows and wing mirrors as well as the windscreen wipers and lights.
When buying a used car, it is important to inspect it for general wear and tear. It would be naïve to expect a used car to be sold without any damage to the body, interior or mechanics; however, that by no means suggests that you should settle for a rust bucket car.
It is important to check the bodywork for rust, checking the wheel arches and as much of the underbelly as you can. While looking at the wheel arches you should also check the tyres, including the spare, to see that they are road legal and won’t need replacing too soon after you make a purchase.
Don’t forget to look at the inside of the car for any upholstery issues or features that aren’t working. Most importantly, open up the bonnet and inspect the engine to see whether it has been well maintained or if it is dirty or neglected in any way.