FAQ – First time car buyers: what to know | AA Cars

After passing your driving test, you’ll want to get on the road as soon as possible. That means you’ll either need to borrow a friend or family member’s car, or buy your own.

If you’re looking to buy your own car, there are lots of factors you need to think about. And if you’ve already got burning questions, like which car to buy and how to pay for it, don’t worry – we’re here to help. 

What sort of car should I buy?

You should only look for cars that suit your circumstances. There’s no need for your first motor to be your dream car. In fact, it’s better to find a car that you can get a good amount of experience in before moving on to something else.

If you won’t be using it very much, look for a car that’s good on fuel and easy to maintain. Something like a city car or a supermini would be ideal for this purpose. 

If you’ll be using it for your daily commute, make sure you go for a car that’s easy to drive and comfortable, so there’s less hassle during rush hour. 

To be 100% sure that you’re buying the right car, it’s helpful to make a list of your needs. That way, you can read reviews of cars and easily see which one will suit you best. You can then start your search with a better idea of what car to buy.

What do I need to look for?

Ideally you should go for a car that has a good safety rating and a good amount of equipment. Newer models come with more safety equipment, so you may be drawn towards cars that have been released in the last 5 to 10 years. 

Kit such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and electronic stability control are all good features to aim for with your first car. You should pay attention to safety regulations, as newer cars with a 4-star safety rating will be safer than ones from 10 years ago.

Also be on the lookout for cars with a good service and MOT history. You don’t want your first car to give you lots of hassle, so a car with a clean bill of health is a good starting point.

Should I buy a new car?

That is entirely up to you and whether you can afford it. If you have the budget for a new car, or you feel comfortable capitalising on a good finance deal, then do what you feel is best.

However, the first few months out on the road are often where you learn the most about driving. 

You might scratch, mark and bump the car during this time, so it’s better to go for a pre-owned car that’s at the cheaper end of the scale.

Once you’re comfortable out on the road and you’ve put some money aside for a newer model, that’s when we’d recommend getting a fresh set of wheels.

What about car insurance?

For new drivers, insurance can sometimes be more expensive than the car itself. That’s why it’s really important to check premiums before you buy the car.

As a general rule, cars with less power are usually cheaper to insure, as are those with more standard safety kit. Look out for cars in the lowest insurance groups, with ratings ranging from 1 to 50. Try to choose from group 5 or below for the best premiums. Always get an insurance quote before signing on the dotted line – especially if you’re a new driver.

How should I pay for it?

If you’ve been saving to buy your first car, you should try to buy it outright. That way, the vehicle is yours when all the paperwork is signed, and you only have to consider the running costs.

You can also look into finance packages. If you’d prefer to pay for the car in smaller increments following a larger cash deposit, and you can afford to do so, finance packages might work well for you..

Getting a loan may be another avenue. With a loan, you’d borrow money from a bank or provider to buy the car, and then pay the money back, usually in monthly instalments. You just need to make sure you’re able to pay monthly costs for the loan.

But the most important thing you should consider is whether you really need a car, and if you can afford to run it. 

Where should I buy it?

There are many options for buying cars. One way is to look through online classifieds, such as AACars.com, where you’ll find a wide selection of used options. Through our site, the cars are all checked through our vehicle inspection service and are supplied by dealers around the UK.

You can find finance advice, see if you’re eligible for a loan, and access affordable breakdown cover through the AA. You can also use our vehicle history checker to see if the used car you want has a hidden past.

Another option is to  go through dealers and approved used networks. Cars that go through these programmes are thoroughly checked before being put on sale. Approved used models will often be in good condition, but can be a bit pricier than similar options.

What do I need to check before buying?

If you’ve seen a car that you’re interested in, there are a few things you need to find out. With the help of our history check, you can see whether the car has been historically well-looked after and if it’s had any major issues.

Make sure you check all of the paperwork for that model. Look through the V5C registration document, the vehicle identification number on the engine and windows, the handbook and any potential finance documents the car may have.

You also need to work out what the running costs will be. By looking through insurance quotes, you’ll be able to gain a rough idea what it will cost you each month or over a year. Try to work out an estimate of how many miles you’ll do in a year, so you can see how much fuel you might use.

You should take the car for a test drive, too. That way, you can see if it has any issues, drives well and is the right car for you. You’ll be able to have a poke around and see what the car comes with so you know exactly what you’re getting. 


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