A car is the second biggest purchase that most people will make in their lifetime, so whenever you decide to buy a new one, it’s important to make a wise decision.
Think carefully about what you are looking for in a car; do you need a large family car?
Do you need a car for long journeys, that is both comfortable and economic?
Is it a city run-around you need?
Or do you simply want a car that looks impressive and has an exceptional drive?
Whatever your requirements, try to narrow down what the perfect car would be for your needs. From here you can work outward – found the car but not in the colour you want?
Decide what features you are willing to compromise on and you’ll be able to expand your search, and even get yourself a better deal.
When shopping for a new car it’s important that you know what your budget is – and stick to it.
Whether you intend to pay for a car fully in cash, or take out a car finance agreement, make sure you can afford it without stretching your budget to breaking point.
The internet is absolutely full of resources to help you decide on the perfect car.
We recommend reading a mix of critic and owner reviews – both have their advantages.
Critic reviews come from someone who has most likely driven loads of cars, and usually has some great motoring knowledge – they will also likely have better awareness of the alternatives in the same category and price range.
Owner reviews come from someone who has spent time driving the car, getting to know the little issues that develop over time, can give a real world account of the car off of the track.
Both reviews have value, so do your research before making that all-important decision.
There’s a limit to the amount of information that you can glean from reviews – sometimes you just need to experience a car in person to really get a feel for it.
Before buying a car, whether it is old or new, go and see it in person and take it for a test drive.
This is especially important with used cars, which may have issues that only became apparent after a drive.
You should never expect a used car to be in showroom condition, but you can be selective when it comes to quality.
Even with new cars, it’s worth taking one for a test drive – it’ll help you get an idea if you like the way it drives, the level of visibility ect.
When you’re buying a new car, the chances are that you’ll be looking to sell your old one to help finance it – and you’ll want to get the most for your money.
It can be very tempting to accept the first offer you are made, or part exchange your car at the garage.
However, if you take your time and determine the actual value of your car, you’ll be able to confidently bargain with potential buyers.
Start by entering the details of your car into a website like Glass’s or Parker’s which can give an estimate based the make model and year of your car, assuming it is in average condition, with average mileage.
Following this, we recommend calling a few dealers and ask what they would offer you for your current car, and take an average of this figure. Finally, conduct a search of classified and internet ads on sites like Autotrader and eBay.
Look for cars of the same make, model and year, as well as those with similar mileage and condition. This will help you to get a good idea of what the car is worth, and what buyers are willing to pay.
Remember that the condition of your car will have an affect on the overall price you’ll receive for it.
High mileage, low model spec, and bodywork or paintwork damage are just some of the factors to take into consideration when setting a price for buyers.
So you’ve found the car that you want, you’ve now made a commitment to buy the car.
On the day you go to pick it up you remember that you need to change your insurance. You phone your insurers and disaster strikes – your premium has increased loads because your new car is higher risk than your old one, or worse, they can’t insure you full stop!
Don’t let this happen, and before committing to buy any car, call your insurer to find out what it’ll cost you and take the opportunity to compare that quote with other insurers – if you get a lower quote from a different insurer you can use this to negotiate and bring down your premium – great news!
If you’ve seen a car, like it and decide you want to buy based on certain promises made by the seller, make sure you get everything in writing.
For example, say you’ve agreed a price with the seller provided that a full set of new tyres are fitted, make sure you have this written and signed by the seller, so that if the tyres are not fitted when you come to pick it up you have proof of the promise.
Most sellers will be more than happy to do this, but if not, take it as an indication that they may not have good intentions, and look for your car elsewhere.
It’ll seem quite far away, but it’s worth considering how good of an investment your car is.
Unless it’s a classic car, it’s unlikely to go up in value, but you can be wise and choose a car which may retain it’s value more than others.
Brand and nearly new cars will depreciate in value much quicker than older cars, but some makes and models will take a nose dive quicker than others.
Do your research and see how certain makes and models do.
Don’t go for the first car you see – shop around and compare different prices from sellers. Autotrader is your friend!
After this, if you are planning on taking out a finance agreement, make sure you consider your options carefully to get the best interest rate and finance term.Most lenders will be flexible, especially if you show them proof of a competitors finance deal.
Always ask if there are any fees included in the process of buying a car, whether from the dealers or the providers of finance.
If you ask the question up front then you should be able to have everything out in the open.
If hidden fees crop up that you don’t agree with, don’t be afraid to negotiate, and walk away if you feel that they are excessive. It’s your hard earned money, so be wise with it!
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter