Top Tips for First Time Car Buyers

Are you looking to take the wheel and steer your way into car ownership? Here are our top tips for first-time buyers to help make your car-buying journey a breeze. 

Whether it's your first time diving into the world of the car market or you're looking to be more equipped when buying a car, you're in the right place. 

Here we cover everything from how much you should spend, which brands are a good pick, what to look out for on a test drive and other car finance tips and advice.

How much should I spend on my first car? 

When it comes to budgeting for your first car, I recommend aligning it with your salary.

Safety features should be a priority, and brands like Ford, Vauxhall, Citroën, and Peugeot offer excellent options.

Opting for a car with a smaller engine can help manage insurance premiums, especially if you're a new driver.

With a budget of £6,000-£10,000, you can strike a good balance between value and affordability.

What car brands are best for first-time buyers? 

In the realm of car ownership, reliability takes centre stage.

Brands such as Ford, Vauxhall, Citroën, and Peugeot have become established brands for first-time buyers, thanks to their performance and reliability.

These manufacturers have earned their reputation for engineering vehicles that stand the test of time.

Choosing one of these brands means choosing a car that not only serves your needs but does so without constant worry about unexpected breakdowns.

The ebb and flow of a car's value, known as depreciation, is another pivotal consideration.

While all vehicles depreciate over time, some brands manage to retain their value better than others.

Ford and Vauxhall, for instance, are known to have lower depreciation rates. This translates to a smarter investment where your car maintains its value more effectively.

How to make sure you're getting a good deal

The Carmoola app takes the guesswork out of evaluating cars.

By entering a car's registration number, you gain access to its history, including accident records, ownership details, and estimated value.

This feature empowers you to make informed choices and steer clear of potential pitfalls.

I emphasise the importance of thorough car inspections during test drives, highlighting factors such as mileage consistency, service history, and overall performance.

What to look out for on a test drive? 

When test-driving a potential car, I recommend assessing five key factors.

First of all, an easy yet crucial step is ensuring the advertised mileage matches the car's display - if it doesn't, this is a big red flag.

Thoroughly inspect the car's service history, as a well-maintained vehicle typically reflects an owner's attentive care.

Another way of inspecting if this car has been well cared for is assessing the tyres. Check to see if they're recognised brands, rather than ones which may be cheaper alternatives.

If they're cutting corners on the tyres, it may mean they've done other repair jobs on the cheap. 

Throughout the test drive, stay alert for any unusual noises, like engine knocking for example, evaluate the overall smoothness of the car's performance, and ensure steering stability at higher speeds.

One final check is to scope out the bodywork and the interior and look out for signs of wear and tear, in particular rust.

What is a credit score and why is it so important?

A healthy credit score is crucial, and I stress its importance.

A strong credit score not only unlocks favourable financing rates but also is an indicator of your overall financial well-being. 

Establish your credit profile by taking out small contracts, like a phone contract for example and get on the electoral roll, if you're eligible. Platforms like ClearScore help you track your progress and take control of your financial journey.

Carmoola will initially do a soft credit check, which means you can see how much you can potentially afford without it affecting your credit score (it takes seconds!). 

What happens when I've finished my monthly car finance payments? 

As you complete your car finance payments with Carmoola, ownership of the vehicle transitions to you.

The final payment of £1 signifies title and full ownership in your name, it's as simple as that.