Tips on buying your first car

A white car on a road driving fast into the sunset. Close up on the wheel.

Purchasing your first car is an exciting rite of passage. It’s also a complex process that calls for careful planning and research. This comprehensive guide will aid you in navigating the path to car ownership smoothly.

Costs of car ownership

Car ownership involves more than just the initial purchase price. Additional costs include fuel, insurance, maintenance, and potential parking fees. It’s important to consider these ongoing costs when assessing your budget.


Start by identifying how much you can allocate towards owning a vehicle. Remember, your budget should account for all car-related expenses, rather than only the monthly payment. It’s prudent to have a clear understanding of your financial situation before stepping foot into a dealership.

Set a realistic price range that you can comfortably afford, taking into account not only the initial purchase price but also the ongoing expenses such as insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs. This will help you narrow down your options and avoid any financial strain in the long run.

Selecting the perfect car

Once you have a clear idea of your budget, it’s time to decide which car best meets your needs. Consider factors such as the car’s size, fuel economy, safety features, and reliability ratings.

Choosing your first car can be an exciting yet daunting task. With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which car is the perfect fit for you. However, with a little research and consideration, you can find the ideal car that meets your needs and budget.

Lifestyle and transportation needs

Consider your lifestyle and transportation needs. Are you a city dweller who needs a compact car for easy manoeuvrability and parking? Or do you live in a residential area where a larger car with more storage space would be more practical? Think about your daily commute, the number of passengers you typically have, and any other specific requirements you may have.


Safety should also be a top priority when selecting your first car. Look for cars that have high safety ratings and are equipped with advanced safety features such as anti-lock braking systems, airbags, traction control, and electronic stability control. These features can provide added peace of mind and protect you in case of an accident.

Remember, choosing your first car is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. By considering your budget, lifestyle, safety features, and test driving different options, you can find the perfect car that will provide you with years of enjoyment and reliability.

New vs used cars

When it comes to selecting a car, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to go for a new or used vehicle. Both options have their own set of advantages and considerations, so it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a choice.

The decision between purchasing a new or used car depends on your budget and personal preferences. While new cars come with the latest features and a manufacturer’s warranty, used cars can often provide great value for a considerably lower cost.

New cars

If you’re someone who values the latest features, technology, and sleek design, then a new car might be the right choice for you. With a new car, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re the first owner, and you can customise it to your liking. Additionally, new cars often come with warranties and maintenance plans, providing added protection and convenience.

Used cars

On the other hand, buying a used car can be a more budget-friendly option. Used cars typically have a lower price tag compared to their new counterparts, making them more accessible to a wider range of buyers. They also tend to have lower insurance costs and slower depreciation rates, which can save you money in the long run. Furthermore, with a used car, you can potentially get a higher-end model or additional features that may have been out of your budget if you were buying new.

Ultimately, the decision between a new or used car boils down to your personal preferences, budget, and priorities. It’s important to thoroughly research and consider factors such as reliability, maintenance history, and resale value when looking at used cars. For those who prioritise the latest features and are willing to invest more upfront, a new car may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re looking for affordability and are comfortable with a car that has some miles on it, a used car could be the perfect fit.

Car financing options

Unless you’re in a position to pay cash for your new car, you’ll likely need to explore financing options. These can include bank loans, credit union loans, or financing through the car dealership. It’s wise to shop around for the best interest rates and terms.

Deciding on a down payment

The down payment is a crucial aspect of your car purchase. While a larger down payment can reduce your monthly payments, it’s important not to strain your budget. Consider your financial situation and determine a down payment that is comfortable for you.

Doing your homework

Before finalising your purchase, spend time researching the specific model you’re interested in. Look at factors like the car’s history (if it’s used), consumer reviews, and any potential recalls. This information can provide valuable insight into the car’s reliability and overall performance.

Visit various dealerships

Visit dealerships to test drive the car models on your shortlist. This will give you a firsthand experience of how each vehicle performs and how comfortable it is. Always remember that buying a car is not just about choosing the most affordable or the most popular model – it’s about finding a reliable vehicle that suits your lifestyle and provides you with the best value for your money.

Negotiating the car price

When you’ve found the car you’d like to purchase, try to negotiate the price. This can be a daunting process, but remember, it’s a standard part of the car-buying process. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price down or ask for additional features.

Car insurance

Car insurance is a legal requirement for all drivers. Your premium will depend on a variety of factors, including your age, driving history, and the type of car you’re insuring. If you’re ready to explore your car insurance options, get covered today with Budget insurance!

Post-purchase steps

Once you’ve purchased your car, there are a few final steps to complete. These include registering the car in your name, paying any necessary taxes, and ensuring your new vehicle is adequately insured.

Alternative options

If buying a car seems too daunting or financially taxing, there are alternatives. Car leasing is a popular option that allows you to use a vehicle for a set period without owning it. Car subscriptions are another emerging trend, offering the flexibility to switch cars after a certain period.

In conclusion, buying your first car is a significant milestone. By taking the time to do your research, set a realistic budget, and understand all the costs involved, you can ensure your first car-buying experience is a positive one.

Frequently asked questions

Should I buy a new car as my first car?

Deciding whether to buy a new car or settle for a used one as your first car is a personal decision. If you have the financial capacity and want to enjoy the smell of fresh upholstery, the latest tech features, and peace of mind with warranty coverage, then a new car may be the right choice for you. However, if you’re on a budget or concerned about depreciation, then a used car might be a better fit. Remember, your first car doesn’t have to be your forever car. It’s more important that it fits your current needs and lifestyle.

Should I buy a new or used car as my first car?

It’s a personal decision that largely depends on your budget and needs. If you’re someone who priorities the shine, smell, and latest features of a brand-new car, and don’t mind the depreciation hit, then go for it! Conversely, if you’re budget-conscious and willing to compromise on the ‘new car feel’ for a more affordable, reliable and potentially higher-end model, then a used car could be your perfect match. Ultimately, it’s about weighing your priorities and making a choice that suits your lifestyle best.

How can I trust a car dealer?

Establishing trust with a car dealer might seem like a daunting task, but it’s quite achievable. Start by doing your own research on the dealer’s reputation. Look for customer reviews and ratings to gauge their credibility. Secondly, assess their transparency by evaluating how straightforward they are about the car’s history, pricing, and any additional costs.

A trustworthy dealer will be upfront and won’t hesitate to answer your queries. Also, observe their customer service quality as it speaks volumes about their professionalism. Finally, trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. Trusting a car dealer is all about feeling valued, respected, and informed.

What should I look for in used car dealers?

When buying a used car, the dealer you choose can make all the difference. Look for a dealership that has a solid reputation for honesty and customer satisfaction. Check out online reviews and ask around for referrals. Transparency is key, so ensure they’re willing to provide vehicle history reports and are open about any repairs or issues the car may have had. A good used car dealer will also have a wide selection of vehicles to choose from, offering you various options. Lastly, their pricing should be fair and competitive, with no hidden fees or charges.

Are insurance premiums more expensive for young drivers?

Yes, insurance premiums are typically more expensive for younger drivers. This is because insurance companies view younger drivers as higher risk due to their lack of driving experience.

How can I estimate running costs of a car?

Start with the upfront costs such as the purchase price, registration, and insurance. Then, consider the ongoing costs like fuel, maintenance, and repairs. Fuel costs can be estimated based on the car’s fuel efficiency and your expected mileage. Maintenance costs will vary depending on the car’s make and model, its age, and your driving habits. Don’t forget to factor in depreciation – the value your car loses over time.

Are petrol cars cheaper to run than diesel cars?

Diesel cars may provide better mileage, but the cost of diesel is generally higher than petrol, which levels the playing field when it comes to running costs. Moreover, the maintenance cost of diesel cars is usually higher due to their complex engines. So, if you’re looking for a car that’s cheaper to run on a day-to-day basis, a petrol car might just be the way to go.

Does credit score impact my ability to secure a car loan?

Your credit score plays a significant role in securing a car loan. Higher credit scores can often secure more favourable interest rates. However, first-time buyers with limited or no credit history may still be able to find financing options. It’s essential to verify your credit report for accuracy before starting the car-buying process.

Should I buy an electric car as my first car?

Electric cars have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Not only are they better for the environment, but they also offer a range of benefits for drivers. One of the main advantages of an electric car is its lower operating costs. Electricity is typically cheaper than gasoline, and electric cars require less maintenance. They also have a longer lifespan, thanks to fewer moving parts. Plus, with advancements in technology, electric cars have become more affordable and have a longer range than ever before.

Can I purchase a car before passing my driving test?

Yes, you can definitely purchase a car before passing your driving test. In fact, many people choose to buy a car before obtaining their driver’s license for various reasons. Owning a car before getting your license can also be beneficial for practising and gaining confidence behind the wheel. You can ask a family member or friend with a valid driver’s license to accompany you while you practice driving in a safe and controlled environment. However, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to legally drive the car on public roads until you have passed your driving test and obtained your license.

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