How do you choose a ‘good’ first car?

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Buying a car for your son or daughter is a huge step, so how do you figure out which is the best first car for them?

It’s no surprise young drivers are desperate to get on the road and research shows many are so eager to drive they’re willing to make sacrifices to their wardrobes and social lives in order to afford running a car.

For most parents, the car they buy for their child – or help their child to buy – will be the second or even third to join the household which may mean it's time to look into a MultiCar policy.

To help you on your way to choosing the best car for new drivers, we’ve put together some top tips.

Start with a budget

The first step to buying a car is figuring out a budget which includes not only the price of the car but also insurance, road tax and all running costs.

Typically, young drivers spend an average of £3,435 on motoring costs which includes fuel, insurance, repairs and the car’s annual MOT. It’s crucial to factor in these costs when buying a car, as failing to account for them ahead of time could lead to major disappointment down the road.

Don’t rush

When buying a car, it’s important not to rush into things; it’s a big purchase and requires lots of planning and research. You want to ensure the car you pick is the right fit for all the drivers – there’s no point investing in a Micra if you have a son who’s 6ft 5”!

Your research shouldn’t stop at the cost of the car but also around the costs the vehicle will incur including, but not limited to, insurance. While the cost of car insurance is worked out based the driver’s motoring history and other pieces of driver information, the type of car itself is obviously a large piece of the pricing jigsaw.

It’s worth considering which cars are the most cost-effective choices for new drivers. Each quarter we look at the top 10 cheapest cars for young drivers to insure and update our list. In our most recent list the top three cheapest cars for drivers under 25 to insure were the Nissan Qashqai at £646.25, the Seat Mii at £668.83, and the Fiat 500 at £673.27.

Automatic or manual?

In addition to which make and model you choose, you may also wonder whether an automatic or manual vehicle is your best option. Findings by our Pricing team recently showed manual cars are, on average, 5.63% cheaper to insure than automatic cars.

Not only that but drivers with full rather than automatic licences, stand to save a substantial amount of money on their insurance as well. Having an automatic licence can mean your insurance costs an average of 43.89% more than it would if you were to have a full licence.

Cheaper car insurance

Rob Davies, a physiotherapy student at Cardiff University, recently purchased his first car to facilitate his time on placement. While he purchased the car for himself, he will share it with his mum.

Rob said: “I was surprised when I saw how much insurance would be setting me back a year. It was a lot more than I’d budgeted for. After looking around and trying to find ways to lower the rate, I realised adding my mum as a second driver substantially lowered my insurance costs.”

Of course, adding a driver who doesn’t need to be on the policy could be considered fraudulent so this isn't an option for everyone but there are plenty of other ways to reduce costs.

You could opt for a black box insurance policy – with Admiral LittleBox you receive an upfront discount and could save at renewal.

Alternatively you could choose MultiCar Insurance which means all the cars in one household, or family members living at different addresses, can be protected under one insurance policy. This means if your child heads off to university, they can still be insured under the same MultiCar policy.

MultiCar Insurance can save drivers up to £355, is flexible, very easy to manage and allows each driver to build up their own individual no claims bonus.

While there’s a lot to consider when buying your son or daughter their first car, it's important to realise that this is a crucial step towards their future and independence this will grant them.

Our guide to buying a first car has even more information to help you and your son or daughter on your way to owning the perfect first car.

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Multi Car Insurance

Multiple cars? You could save over £355 with Multicar

1st Dec 2016 and 31st May 2017, 1 in 10 customers who provided a best alternative price saved £355

  • Immediate discount Other cars can join at a later date and get their own MultiCar discount. Just tell us about them now.
  • Add friends & family to the policy Perfect for insuring your kids, parents, housemates, or your partner.
  • Combine cars from different addresses Even if family members live away from home, they can still join the MultiCar policy.