I was 18 when I was given my first car, and several things have cropped up since, that seem important, so I thought I’d share them as tips and advice for people buying their first car.

my first car

My first car – on a camping trip about 3 years ago – Just before I sold it, engine-less after doing 120,000miles in 6 years!

1) It’s worth buying as new a car as you can afford – you don’t want to be breaking down late at night, shortly after passing your test. It can be scary and lonely, standing at the side of the road waiting for car breakdown.

2) Get the car HPI checked before you buy – this will confirm whether the car has previously been stolen or written off – you don’t want an illegal car! There are lots of websites that can do it for just a few pounds.

3) If buying a used car… A warranty, isn’t always worth the paper it’s written on. An MOT doesn’t always guarantee the car to be in perfect condition either. Unless it’s a brand new car from a main dealer, there are often a lot of things that warranties don’t cover – make sure you read the warranty carefully before you buy. If in doubt – pay for an independent vehicle inspection. That will check the current road condition of the car.

4) Think about insurance. Get a quote before you buy the car. Sporty cars, expensive cars and cars with big engines are usually more expensive to insure.

5) Think about taking the Pass Plus driving test. I did mine and it saved me over a thousand pounds on car insurance over the course of 5 years.

6) Does the car come with tax/MOT/service history? If not… why not?

7) Think about road tax – people carriers and off roaders are often in the highest tax bands, whilst fuel efficient or ECO cars are lower or sometimes exempt!

8) Consider boot size. Is there anything specific you need to fit in there (e.g. pushchair / wheelchair)?

9) Consider space, fuel economy, functionality, fuel type, in-car entertainment and other features before you commit to buying the car. What features do you need, which are desirable and which are just unnecessary?

10) Take it for a test drive. You might find it’s smaller inside, than it looks, or that it doesn’t drive well.

11) If you have children under 12, you will need the correct type and fit of car seat. Bear this in mind when buying the car. And likewise bear the car in mind, when buying the car seats. Your local fire station will usually be happy to check you are fitting the car seat correctly. You should sort this, before putting a child in the car.

12) Be VERY careful buying a car online. Never pay money upfront until you have seen the car, V5 document and keys!

13) Make sure the correct parts of the V5 document are filled out for the transfer of ownership.

When you’ve bought the car…

14) Make sure you always have the following in the boot. You never know when you might get lost, break down or get stuck on the motorway for hours!…
* Baby wipes – Even if you don’t have children – you might get oil on your hands or a passenger might spill some food or drink.
* Maps – Even the best Sat-Nav has it’s flaws!
* Bottled Water – For you and for the car!
* Blankets – These are vital at keeping you warm at the side of the road if you have to wait fro vehicle recovery. Sleeping bags are great for this.
* Empty Fuel Can – for filling when you run out. Some people carry full ones, but I wouldn’t advise it, in case of a crash.

15) Carry out regular checks on oil, water (coolant), windscreen wash, and tyres. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre!

16) Get a good breakdown cover – even on new cars. Consider how far from home you travel, how old the car is, and look at what each package offers. The cheapest is not always the best.

17) Don’t play red light bingo with the fuel – one day your luck (and fuel) will run out!

Please feel free to add your own tips for buying your first car, in the comments section below!


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