Questions to ask before you buy a car

Getting value for money on a car is about more than just price, so here’s our handy guide on what to consider before you part with your cash!

What car should I get?

What do you need it for? Do you need it for work, the school run, for long journeys, for the weekly shop? What is most important to you and your lifestyle? Fuel efficiency, boot size, ease of parking, number of doors, internal spec? Answering some of these questions will help you find the perfect car for your needs.

Should I get a new or used car?

Though a new car may be costlier upfront, as a rule, it will be more fuel efficient, have a longer warranty and may have a lower rate on finance deal. A second-hand car however, may be slightly more expensive to run and be more liable to need repairs, but for that, will always have a far cheaper price tag.

Can I trade in my current car?

Many car dealerships will offer trade-in deals on your old car but may not give you a particularly good price. To beat the car salesmen, get a free valuation of your old car on a site like Autotrader, Parkers or Whatcar and use that as ammunition to get the best value for your car. (You can then decide whether you’d make more money selling it yourself than trading it in.)

Is the car in good condition?

Whether you’re at the dealership or buying second-hand directly from a seller, it is important to check that the car is in good nick. You can get a thorough history on the background of any car from The AA car check (for £18.99) or from UKvehicle.com (from £3.99). However, the only way to be really sure it is in working order is to get it checked by a professional. The RAC offer vehicle inspections from £99 and The AA from £128.

What are the hidden costs?

Buying the car is one thing but actually affording to run it is another. When planning your car buying budget, remember to include insurance, petrol, car tax, resident parking permits, servicing and MOT in your calculations. It is also worth finding out if there a local independent garage that can fix your make of car or whether you will need to take it to a more expensive approved dealer.