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Before you set your heart on a car, first check out the insurance costs.


After getting an insurance quote, you will know how much you have left.

Set a budget and stick to it.  Factor in regular servicing and the cost of annual car tax. (You can calculate vehicle tax rates – Car vehicle tax rates are based on either engine size or fuel type and CO2 emissions, depending on when the vehicle was registered).

It’s always good to set a little aside in case something breaks.


Petrol or Diesel?

Generally speaking a new driver will opt for a small petrol car as the insurance cost will be smaller.

But if you intend on travelling a lot of miles then an economical diesel engine could save you in the long run even if it costs you more to insure and to buy compared to a petrol.

PCP, PCH or HP Finance

Buying new has many benefits including a warranty and some manufacturers may offer insurance and finance deals.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) allows you to pay an initial deposit, followed by monthly installments.

Then, when you get to the end of your agreement, there is a final balloon payment that must be made if you want to keep the car.

Bear in mind you will need to agree an annual mileage allowance, you won’t be able to sell the car before the finance is paid and you won’t own the car until all payments have been made.

Personal Contract Hire (PCH) is basically renting. At the end of the contract you just hand the car back but there’s no option to buy the car at the end. You’ll have to agree on an annual mileage allowance and there may be charges if you want to leave the contract early.

Hire Purchase (HP) is when you pay an initial deposit and then pay off the entire value of the car in monthly installments. When all the payments are made you own the car.

USED – Cash is King

So don’t be afraid to haggle, expect a discount, and be prepared to walk away.

Check out car buying websites like Usedcarsni or Autotrader were you can search for multiple makes and models from dealers and private sellers.

Service History

Always ask to see the service history as this is proof that your car has been regularly serviced and it allows you to check the mileage with the current reading.

Service history is also very useful if you decide to sell the car as people will pay more.

HPI Check

A HPI check is a small price to pay as it will confirm if your car has been damaged in a crash, stolen, or if there is outstanding finance.

MOT and Warranty

The longer the MOT the better, as a car that has just passed its MOT should provide more trouble free motoring than a car with an MOT that’s about to run out.

A new car has substantial warranty and some dealers will also offer warranties on used cars but always check to see what is covered as you may get a shock when something breaks only to find out it’s not covered.

Bring someone with you

If you have a family member or friend with good car knowledge, then bring them to view the car. you may get a shock when something breaks only to find out it’s not covered.

Test Drive it!

Always do a test drive. This gives you a good feel for the car and you can check it’s comfortable to drive and has the space you need.

When test driving a used car listen out for strange noises as these could point to faults or worn parts in the engine, suspension or steering.

Read more of our articles here.