Buying a car is a huge decision. It’s one of the most expensive things we purchase, after property. But with so many options and potential pitfalls, it’s hard to know what to look for. Especially when you’re not a qualified mechanic.
First, you need to decide where to buy your car. Most people choose a dealership because it’s safe and convenient. Car dealers have to offer consumer rights and warranties to protect you if something goes wrong. They also handle paperwork, offer car finance and let you part-exchange your old car.
Some people consider buying a car from a private seller, tempted by lower prices. But be aware that the risks are much greater.
Cars bought privately are ‘sold as seen’ and must simply be ‘as described’. This means the onus is on you to spot any issues with the car, and you’ll have no legal protection if you buy a dud vehicle.
The next thing to consider is whether you want a new or used car. This is down to personal preference as well as financial considerations. But here are the options:
Start by asking yourself what the car will primarily be used for. Then use this checklist to make sure it suits your lifestyle.
Add on any other features that are important to you.
Many people just look at the purchase price of a car, but it’s important to factor in running costs too. Take into account all likely expenses, including depreciation.
The car fuel type you need will depend on the type of driving you do.
Make sure the car also has any added features you need.
Before you buy a used car, check it’s in good condition and find out about how it was previously run. Read the service and MOT history for details of repair work.
Remember that car dealers should inspect used cars and make any necessary repairs before selling them. And Approved Used are subject to stringent inspections.
Here’s what else to look for in a used car:
Check all the electrics are working too.
If you have any niggles about used cars, don’t ignore them. A car is a big purchase and it should feel right.
Hopefully this checklist will help you find the right car for you. And read our checklist of what to look for during a test drive.