Buying a new car

In the market for a new motor

When shopping for a shiny new car you think about the practicalities, such as space for the kids or a bit of off-road driving. But most of us are more concerned about its colour, performance, extras and if it makes you look cool. So a new car means you can tailor it to what you want.

And you get a manufacturer warranty, no MOT for 3 years, and maybe special offers on servicing to boot.

But it's an expensive business and there are a few factors that need to be taken into account before you step into a dealership

Work out your budget

As well as saving money on MOT tests for 3 years, you can also save on road tax, depending on the engine size you go for.

So before heading to the showroom, do a bit of research online about the car you're thinking of buying and how it affects the basic costs, like:

  • Car insurance – You could pay more depending on the type of car, where you live and engine size, so check it's affordable before booking a test drive.
  • Car loan – If you need to sort out financing your new car, take a look at what car loans are available to you before and how much you can spend going to the dealer – you'll almost certainly get a better deal than their car finance.
  • Car tax – Your new car will be taxed on its CO2 emissions in the first year, and then a standard rate from the second year depending on the engine type. If your new car has a list price of over £40,000, there's an extra charge of £310 a year in the first 5 standard rate years.
  • Depreciation – If you keep the car for at least 3 years, it spreads the loss in value.
And do check if these extras are in the basic price:
  • Delivery and number plates.
  • Special features you want.

Part exchange your car

You can get a little bit of extra cash towards your new car by trading in your old one. There are a few things you need to be aware of before you agree to anything:

  • Check your car's value – It depends on age, condition and mileage. You can check its valuation online.
  • Look at the deal you're offered to buy a new car – if you negotiate a good discount, you're unlikely to get a good trade-in price for your old car.
  • Think about selling privately – you should get more than if you part exchange it, but it can be time consuming.
  • Read the small print of advertised minimum trade-in offers – they look attractive, but may only be available if you take the dealer's car finance.

Check the paperwork

Go over the warranty conditions before you sign. For example, you may need to fork out for routine checks to make sure the long-term, anti-corrosion warranty stays valid.

Car manufacturers can't demand you get your car serviced by a franchise dealer while it's under warranty. But you must still get it serviced according to their recommended schedule, using only manufacturer approved parts. And you'll have to keep records, to show the manufacturer that you've done what was expected..

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 if it's been serviced by one of their dealers.

And don't be pressured into buying – walk away if you're not completely happy.

Finally, getting your new car

All you need to do is make collection or deliver arrangements. Don't pay unless you're happy. Then you know when to invite your friends round to have a look.

Our top tip is to:

  • Collect the car when the dealer is not busy, so that they can help you to familiarise with the controls and any set-up needed.

Then it's the best bit. You get to enjoy that lovely new car smell, and the open road in a car you chose to suit you and that no one else has owned.

23 March 2012

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