Buying your first car

For a young driver buying your first car is a pretty big deal. It gives you a level of independence you might never have had before. You’re no longer reliant on family, friends or public transport to get where you need to be. It also means you’ve got to figure out which of the hundreds of cars on the market is right for you, which can seem overwhelming.

When you first get a car it’s important to remember that you’re still pretty new to the road, and that good drivers never stop learning. It takes a while to get really comfortable driving, especially on the motorway or long journeys, and it’s important that you never get complacent. Driving is always risky and there is a lot that is out of your control no matter how good a driver you are.

The first step in choosing a car is to work out what your budget is. How much can you afford to spend on the vehicle? As well as the initial outlay you need to be aware of the additional costs of fuel, road tax, yearly MOTs and insuring the car (which could be quite a bit of cash while you’re still young), plus you need to account for unexpected maintenance.

Old Mini – cheap to buy but, not the safest

If you buy a brand new car it will be subject to an increased road tax for the first year called “showroom tax”. This is one of the reasons it’s well worth considering a second hand car. Modern cars are generally very well made, so as long as you buy from a reputable dealer and make sure it has all the necessary paperwork there’s nothing to stop you getting a great deal on a decent and reliable car. A head’s up though – although it would be awesome to have a retro car like an old Mini or Beetle, those cars were made to much less rigorous safety specifications and won’t hold up well in a crash with a modern car. Hopefully that won’t ever an issue but it’s important to put safety first.

Once you’ve sorted your budget and you know what you can afford to spend on fuel ask yourself what you’ll mostly be using the car for. Diesel engines are more fuel efficient on long journeys or when driving fast on the motorway, but they cost more to buy. Petrol engines are cheaper but they’re only really efficient if you use your car mostly for short trips and driving within a city. You need to figure out whether you’ll be better off making a bit of an investment in the beginning to save in the long run, or if you can get away with spending less on a petrol engine because you’re not going to need the fuel efficiency.

Knowing your budget and what kind of a driver you’re going to be really helps to narrow down the choices, and you can start thinking about which models are right for you in terms of size and comfort. Make sure you take a car out for a couple of test drives before buying it, and find a dealer you’ve been recommended by someone you trust. When you finally get your wheels remember – stay safe and enjoy your new found freedom!

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