Buying your first used car?

It’s an exciting but daunting prospect when you’re ready to buy your first car. We want the experience to be as enjoyable and satisfying as possible, and as specialists in small used cars – we want to help you make the best choice for you, even if you decide to buy a car somewhere else.

There are a few things you’ll want to consider before buying a used car, like how much it will cost to run and insure, how many miles it’s covered and whether you can easily get parts for repair. Buying an older car at a cheap price isn’t always the best option, so how do you know when you’re getting a really good deal?

If you’re not sure what you should be looking for, what to ask a used car salesman or you’d just like some advice about choosing a used car – check out our best tips for buying your first used car below.

1. Decide a budget and stick to it

As well as the purchase cost, you’ll need to consider how much the insurance and tax costs and what the running and maintenance costs are likely to be. Cars with smaller engines are cheaper to insure and run, so they’re a great choice for your first car. Newer cars tend to be more efficient and thus cheaper to run, but a well maintained small used car that’s over 10 years old can still be economical.

Set your budget not just for the car itself, but how much you can afford to pay in petrol, oil, services, insurance and other hidden costs of owning a car.


2. Ask questions about the history and ask for paperwork

A car with less owners and a good service history will be less likely to have hidden problems. Consider the age and the mileage to see whether it’s had above or below average use – divide the number of miles by the number of years since its registration, and you’ll have a rough idea of how many miles it’s covered per year of its life.

Ask if the car has been HPI checked and consider undertaking a check before finalising a purchase.

3. Ask about maintenance

It’s not uncommon for some vehicle components to need replacing more often than others.  Ask the salesman what is likely to need replacing within the next 2 years to gauge what the maintenance costs are likely to be. You can also get useful information on how often to check the oil, screen fluid etc. Used cars salesmen should be able to equip you with the knowledge you need to look after your first car.


4. Ask about a warranty

Good car dealers offer a warranty with sale. Find out how long it is and what the terms and conditions are. This is indicative that the vehicle has been well checked and found to be mechanically sound, a great sign that your new car will be a great runner!


5. Check finance options carefully

Make sure you read finance agreements carefully so that you know what you’re signing up for. Some vehicle finance agreements will prevent you from reselling the car within a set period, so you need to be sure you’ll want the car for the length of the agreement. Interest should be clearly explained so that you know how much is repayable. If you have any doubts, ask for some information in writing so you can read it through and discuss it with someone impartial.