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Buying your first car

Get the best for your budget

When it comes to buying a vehicle, you really want one you can trust.

We recommend a sensible balance between style, comfort and reliability in your first car. It's easy to get sucked in by looks and gadgetry, but don't forget the basics.

Choose the car you need and can afford

Make a checklist of the things that are really important for you and maybe some nice-to-have items.

Don't underestimate the cost of car ownership. Besides buying the vehicle itself, set yourself a realistic annual budget for:

To buy the car you could use hire purchase. Some dealers may offer 0% interest on the instalment payments for certain models. Do your homework – and only borrow within your means.

We can help you drive away in a vehicle of your choice:


Find a trustworthy seller

Your first decision (especially if buying second-hand) is whether to go with a dealer or a private seller.

Buying from a private seller can be a lot cheaper. But using a reputable car dealer is a safer way to buy a car, as you can be confident that all the legal paperwork is in place.

Plus, if anything goes wrong with your vehicle, you'll have fewer legal consumer rights with a private sale, compared to the peace of mind that a dealer can offer.

On AA Cars we make sure all our dealers are reputable – with many signed up to our AA Dealer Promise. For peace of mind:


Do your due diligence before committing

If you buy from a dealer, important facts to establish about the car's history include:

  • the car's age, service history and mileage
  • the number of previous owners
  • any modifications or repair work
  • any functions or features that aren't in full working order

If you're happy with the response to the above questions, you should take the car for a test drive. Assess things like:

  • the comfort of the driver and passenger seats
  • the dashboard controls are all working (from warning lights to the sound system)
  • steering, braking, acceleration, clutch operation and gear changing
  • the ride across varying surfaces, at a range of speeds

Finally, before going ahead with any purchase you absolutely must:

  • check the vehicle's registration certificate (the V5C or log book), service history and the MOT expiry date
  • ask if the manufacturer's handbook is present (for service stamps)
  • confirm any warranty from the dealer
  • get the full terms of the deal in writing, to be signed by both parties

If you do decide to buy privately, then we can help you with: