Buying a car can often be a major investment, so giving it plenty of thought and doing your research beforehand will pay dividends, and often be the difference between buying a car that will serve you well for years, or buying a lemon you can’t wait to be rid of. Here are seven decisions you should make before you even step onto a dealer’s forecourt…
New or Used
In most cases, although not always during some economic climates, new cars will cost a lot more than used cars. Plus, they lose a lot of their value the moment you take ownership. But many people prefer to own a model fresh off the assembly line.
If you’re buying used, you need to know whether you’re going to buy it through a major dealership such as at Jennings Ford Direct in Sheffield, at auction, or from a private seller. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but if you’re worried about the condition of the car, or whether it may be stolen, and your ability to determine those things, then you’re probably best off with a licensed dealer.
What is your budget?
Know the maximum that you’re prepared to spend, and stick to it, avoiding temptation. Sometimes you’ll be researching what you want, almost at your final decision, and then temptation will be dangled in front of you, often in the shape of a beautiful sports car at a price just outside your budget. You need to be firm in your resolve!
Can you afford to run it?
The cost of buying the car is of course not the total cost of ownership. You also need to factor in expenditure on road tax, insurance, fuel, parking permits, MOTs and regular servicing. You must have a good estimate of what your annual spend is likely to be, and then decide whether you can actually afford to spend that much.
How to finance it?
If you can’t afford to buy the car you want outright, there are several other options open to you, such as leasing, personal contract purchases or hire purchase agreements. Around three-quarters of cars bought in the UK last year used financing from the dealership. Know which would be the best for your circumstances and before signing anything be sure you understand the implications if you’re unable to keep up payments.
Petrol or diesel?
Cars that run on diesel tend to be more expensive, but hold their value more. They are also more powerful, and if you intend to get a lot of use from the car, they will usually prove to be more economical with fuel. So your decision in this regard ought to depend on what mileage you expect to put on the car, and whether that is worth spending a bit more at the start.
Is it the right vehicle for your needs?
What are your reasons for buying the car in the first place? If it’s for commuting then your first priority is going to be fuel economy, followed by what it’s going to set you back annually to keep it on the road – insurance, tax, servicing. If you’re expecting your family to expand soon then you may be in the market for a family car, in which case you’re going to be looking for safety, and space to carry buggies, suitcases, car seats. If you live in a city, you might want something compact for driving down narrow urban streets and sneaking into tiny parking spaces.
Are you content that everything is in order?
Have you checked the vehicle’s MOT and ownership history so you can be confident it hasn’t been stolen and that all repair work corresponds with what the seller is telling you? Have you taken a lengthy test drive to check it runs okay? Have you looked for any obvious structural or engine problems?
If these seven decisions are firmly made and you’re still happy, then maybe it’s time to start negotiating on the price!