Whether you're thinking of buying a brand new car, or considering a used model, you probably have lots of questions
Buying a car should be an exciting experience but, with so many options available, it can be confusing too.
Research the car market
Buying a car is most likely the second biggest investment you'll make after buying a house so you have to do your homework. Whether you are buying a new or used vehicle you should find out as much as you can about it before sealing the deal. There are published rankings of the most reliable cars, and if you're buying a used car don't be afraid to take an expert with you to examine the vehicle for condition.
Buying a brand new car
From March 1 2017 all brand new cars will wear the new 17 registration number plate, which will take over from the previous 66 registration issued in September 2016.
Buying a car for the new registration plate can be very expensive, but as it’s such a popular time to buy dealers often undercut each other by offering discounts, low finance rates or even higher specification cars for the same price, so you could land yourself a great deal.
Vehicle tax rates are changing from the 1st April, which means brand new cars sold after this date will be eligible for the new rates. Buying a car before this will save you from the increase in tax rates that could see most car owners paying at least £140 per year.
Tax rates and cars
According to gov.uk new tax rates being put in place from April 1st 2017 will see only zero emission cars being exempt from road tax and hybrids receiving a £10 discount. From this date cars producing between 1-50g/km CO2 will pay £10 and those producing 121.4g/km CO2 – the average for a new car in 2016 will pay £160. Cars producing over 256g/km CO2 will pay £2,000.
The introduction of a wealth tax will also affect those who buy a new vehicle costing more than £40,000. After the first 12 months you will have to pay £310 per year from the 2nd to the 6th year of ownership.
Since the scrapping of the paper tax disc in October 2014, vehicle tax no longer transfers with the sale. You'll need to get new vehicle tax before you can use the vehicle.
What do I do if I want to buy a used car?
If you're looking at buying a second hand car you need to make sure you run a few checks before driving off.
Used car buying risks are on the rise with outstanding finance a particular concern, according to My Car Check. Did you know it's illegal to sell a car if it has outstanding finance, such as PCP, without informing the finance company?
In January 2016, My Car Check - an online tool which lets you see a vehicle's full history by searching the registration number - revealed 48% of all checks flagged up at least one issue.
This is up 6% on the same month in 2015 and could be anything from a legal registration plate transfer to a major issue such as a previous write-off.
Shortlist your favourite cars
Choosing a car can be daunting when faced with endless options, but make life easier by narrowing your choice down to the make and model you want. When doing this remember to consider your needs - size, comfort, children etc. Our guide to choosing the right car may be able to help with that! And importantly, make sure you test drive as many as possible.
Set a car buying budget and stick to it
It’s easy to get excited when you see the perfect car but don’t forget there are plenty of cars for sale up and down the country, so you may be able to get the right car from a little further afield. The optional extras may be tempting but do you really need that leather trim or the electric sunroof? Don't let the salesman tempt you into adding on costly extras - set yourself a budget and don't stray over it.
Selling your car
If you have a car to sell make sure you shop around to get the best price for it. Make the most of the internet and traders - you can part exchange on your new vehicle for an easy option, but make sure the sales adviser is giving you the best price out there; don't be afraid to contact other garages for prices. Check online buying sites also, but you will probably find that privately selling your car will give you the best return.
Long-term running costs of car ownership
It can be easy to only consider the lump sum you'll be paying out when buying a car but you need to keep in mind other costs: repayments if you're borrowing money, road tax, insurance, fuel, and repair and parts costs if something goes wrong.
Check the vehicle's paperwork
If you are buying a used car make sure it comes with the big four:
- V5C Registration Certificate (log book)
- MOT (if over three years old)
- Service history
Checks: Are all of the above documents present? Do the Registration and Chassis numbers detailed on the V5 match those on the vehicle? Are the personal details (full name and address), in the case of a private purchase, the same as the person selling the vehicle?
Finding a cheap car
No matter where you find your perfect car it is very rare to have a set price for it - even if it's brand new. So don't be embarrassed to haggle for a discount! Put the car's details into a car valuation site to make sure the seller isn't over-pricing.
Don't be afraid to walk away
If you aren't 100% happy with what you're being offered then sit tight and see if the seller is willing to meet your requirements (as long as they are realistic). However, if you still aren't happy then don't be afraid to walk away - there are plenty of other dealers out there.
Admiral now offer Car Finance. A simple online process could show you a finance deal for your car in a few minutes - just make sure you have your reg number to hand.