Buying new gets you the benefit of the latest advances in safety and security, comfort, performance and fuel efficiency and you'll be able to get just the specification you want.
You'll get a comprehensive, manufacturer-backed warranty, won't have to face the prospect of an MOT test for three years either and may also be able to take advantage of special offers on servicing packages but there are pitfalls to be avoided – hidden extras can bring nasty surprises, and rapid initial depreciation means that buying new comes at a price.
- Aim to keep a new car for at least three years to spread the cost of rapid initial depreciation
- Make sure your budget includes insurance and road tax
- If you need to borrow money, shop around for a loan before visiting the dealer – you'll almost certainly get a better deal than you would with the dealer's own finance.
- Check car tax rates before you buy – since 2010 cars in band H and above (>165g/km CO2) have been subject to a higher first year rate ("showroom tax") and new cars with low official CO2 emissions have been zero rated for car tax in the first year.
Watch out for hidden extras:
- Check the price covers delivery charges and number plates
- Make sure any special features or extras you want are included in the price
If you're part-exchanging, price your car realistically:
- Get an idea of your car's value based on its age, condition and mileage
- Focus on the 'cost to change' – if you negotiate a good discount on a new car, you're unlikely to get a generous trade-in for your old car
- You should be able to get more for the car by selling privately but that can be very time consuming and stressful compared with the simplicity of driving to the dealer in your old car and driving away in the new one.
- Be wary of advertised minimum trade-in offers – they might look attractive, but may only be available if you take the dealer's finance package
- Many dealers will have allowed for bargaining in agreeing a price
- Remember your budget though – don't get carried away
Agree collection or delivery arrangements:
- Don't hand over money until you're satisfied with the collection or delivery arrangements
- Try to schedule collection for a time when the dealer's not too busy so that they can put aside enough time to help familiarise you with controls and any set-up required.
Familiarise yourself with the warranty conditions before you sign anything:
You may need to fork out for routine checks done to ensure the long-term anti-corrosion warranty remains valid
Car manufacturers can't insist that you get the car serviced by a franchise dealer during the warranty period but you must still get it serviced according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule and criteria using only manufacturer approved parts. You will have to keep records so you can demonstrate to the manufacturer that servicing was undertaken to their requirements.
It's worth bearing in mind that if anything goes wrong shortly after the warranty expires, a manufacturer is more likely to show goodwill towards any claim if the car has been serviced by one of their dealers.
Don't be pressured into buying – walk away if you're not completely happy
(23 March 2012)