Buying Your First Car - Everything You Need to Know as an Informed Consumer


There’s nothing quite like the feeling you enjoy when you purchase your first car. Sure, the vehicle itself is exciting and new, but it’s more about the feeling that owning a vehicle provides. Owning your own car means you have total freedom and flexibility to go wherever you want, when you want, and not have to worry about public transportation schedules and routes. You are no longer at the mercy of anyone or anything else when it comes to getting around.

While you will probably go on to own a number of cars in your lifetime, there is just something so memorable and special about your first car. It's usually the one you remember the rest of your life while the others start to blur together.

With that said it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the moment but buying a car should be about a lot more than excitement. There is plenty to consider from the big details such as buying a new or used vehicle, right down to the smaller details like whether or not you should get personalised number plates. It’s not a process you want to rush through or feel pressured into making a hasty decision. Here we’ll cover everything you need to know when it comes to buying your first car, so that you can make an informed purchase.

Choosing Between New and Used

One of the biggest questions that you'll be faced with in the process is whether to buy new or used. Both have their own set of pros and cons, so it's a good idea to look into each before making a decision.

When it comes to buying new you will have the luxury of being the first and only owner of the vehicle. Everything is in brand new condition, which means you won't need to worry about repairs for quite some time. Also, new cars usually come with a warranty, so you have that added protection for at least the first few years. When buying new you also have a lot of flexibility in terms of the features you want in the car, the colour you want, and other details. If you plan on financing your car, which most people need to do, typically the deals will be better on a new vehicle.

As for the cons, a new car is clearly going to cost more money than a used vehicle. Within the first three years you can expect that vehicle to lose 30-40% of its value too, so it's not an investment that holds its worth.

Now if it’s a used car you are looking into, it’s important to be aware of its pros and cons. A used car is going to have a cheaper price, which can be ideal for those on a budget. Even if you get one that is just a couple of years old, you’ll notice a difference in the price. Depending on how old it is, you also still may have some of that manufacturer’s warranty left on it.

Unfortunately, with a used car you won’t get to be so picky about the colour and features. You get what you see. At the same time, you don’t know how well it was cared for and maintained. This will affect what repairs will need to be done in the future.

Get a Quote on Car Insurance

Before you go purchasing a car you will also want to get a quote on car insurance. For those who have never owned a vehicle before, the cost of car insurance may come as a bit of a shock. Car insurance is based on the person's age, experience, driving record, and the vehicle itself. There are many vehicles that are known for their low insurance rates, so these may be ones you want to familiarise yourself with.

Look into Safety Ratings and Reviews of Various Models and Makes

While there are a number of different factors and criteria that plays into a person’s decision-making process, the safety ratings and reviews should be high on the list. You can do some simple online searches regarding safety ratings. It’s also a good idea to read reviews from other drivers.

As for what kind of safety features to look for, things such as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side and front airbags are all key features. These are pretty standard features on new cars today, and even those that are just a few years old.

What About Private Registration Plates?

Typically, your plates are one of the last things you worry about when it comes to buying a car, but there are decisions to be made here as well. You need to decide if you want to go ahead with a personalised car registration, which allows you to pick a private plate that appeals to you. Remembering your plate can be tricky which is why so many car owners choose to go the route of buying a personalised registration.

In order to move the process along quickly and efficiently, you can also look into a service that takes care of the personal car registration for you. British Car Registrations can look after your private car registration needs as their experts are able to coordinate the entire process from start to finish. Since it is your first car, you won’t have an existing personal plate, but this is something they can transfer for clients, providing an all-in-one type of service.

British Car Registrations actually sell a variety of different types of DVLA number plates. You can purchase private number plates owned by previous clients. The company has a stock of personalised plates at all times ready to go. British Car Registrations is a licensed number plate supplier and private registration provider.

Set a Budget Before You Start Visiting Car Lots

Before you actually head to a car lot to start shopping, it’s a good idea to set a firm budget. Be sure that you’ve done the calculations in advance and figured out what kind of monthly payment you are comfortable with. You will want to make your budget clear right from the start when speaking with a sales person.

Always Be Sure to Take it for a Test Drive

Whether you are buying a new or a used vehicle it is extremely important you take it for a test drive. Every car handles differently, and you need to feel comfortable in the vehicle you choose. Make sure that you sample different speeds, try parking the vehicle, and make both right and left hand turns during your test drive.

One tip to watch for during your test drive is to be aware of blind spots. Often these really sporty and sleek looking vehicles are fun and smooth to drive but depending on their shape and the size and placement of the windows, you may find there are all kinds of blind spots. This can cause a safety concern.

Shop with Confidence

Buying your first car is meant to be an exciting and memorable time in your life. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the moment, it’s also important you do your research and go into the process as an informed consumer.