Money Matters Team

Six tips for finding the right car for you

By Money Matters Team 06/06/2013

Buying a car?

It can fill us with temptation and trepidation. Andy Moore looks at some top tips for buying a car.

There's the searching, the haggling and, finally, the satisfaction when you drive away your new set of wheels for the first time.

A year ago (and somewhat emotionally), I gave up our aging 11-year-old car in favour of a newer model. The newer car was sold to me with the promise of a year's MOT – but an online check proved it had failed the test. Humph…

Fingers burnt, I thought I would share some tips below.

1. Consider the long-term

For many of us, buying a car is likely to be one of the biggest purchases we can make. As well as thinking about how suitable a particular model might be, how about considering what you might want from a car in a few years' time?

2. Diesels may be unsuitable for low-mileage drivers

For motorists who tend to cover short distances, ask yourself, is it better to go for a petrol rather than a diesel model, despite the better fuel economy offered? The AA has a handy car running cost guide for 2013/14 which could help you decide which fuel type is more suitable for your needs. Diesels may have to be driven between 20-30,000 miles to see the pay back, according to The Telegraph.

3. Why spend thousands to save a few pounds?

Buyers should be careful not to focus on one aspect of a car's running costs. For example, if a car costs just £20 more on an insurance band, is it really worth looking around for a different model? Look for a car that suits your lifestyle needs as well as your budget. With a family car, for example, some insurance providers might offer you a like-for-like replacement in the event of an accident. Why cram three kids, two adults and a dog into a hatchback if you're used to driving your family about in an estate?

4. Driving a hard bargain

This is where I really fell down, not having the courage or detachment of heart to haggle. Did you know that, last year, the average buyer shaved almost £1000 off the price of a car according to a survey by the Auto Trader Owner’s Guide. If you cannot get money off – are there any extras that can be thrown in for free such as servicing or an extended warranty? If you do settle for extras, car sellers should explain the terms and conditions of these. It's important you get the right level of servicing to keep your car running smoothly.

5. Long-term costs

Don't just think about the initial cost of the car. There are other aspects to consider such as insurance, repayments if you're borrowing money and fuel economy, servicing and repair costs.

What about a Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) powered car? Liquid Petroleum is the third most commonly used transportation fuel behind petrol and diesel. High mileage LPG drivers could save as much as 40% on fuel costs compared with petrol, and 20% compared with diesel, claims TheGreenCarWebsite.com.

6. What about depreciation?

According to the AA 'The average new car will have a residual value of around 40% of its new price after three years (assuming 10,000 miles/year)'. The depreciation of a cars value can leave a huge dent in motorists' pockets, and this can be factored in as part of the vehicle's overall ownership costs.

Be careful to check what those percentages will mean for you. A percentage figure could mask the true cost of your car's depreciation. For example, depreciation on the value of a large car bought for around £15,000 will be higher than a small car bought for £5,000.

Summary

In the long run, buyers should trust their head rather than heart. Using a good measure of common sense will stand you in good stead for the road ahead.

What if things go wrong? Remember organisations such as Trading Standards are here to help if you think you've fallen into the hands of a rouge trader.

Researching car models, doing your homework and learning how to search for a better deal can all help to make you a wiser car buyer.
 
Happy motoring.

Andy Moore, Money Matters blog team

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.

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