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What you need to know about buying your first car

It’s an exciting and liberating moment. However, you must be careful about what you can afford. To ensure years of enjoyment, take your time when deciding.

Freedom comes at a price

Okay, so you are thinking about buying a car. In the UK, we love our cars and we love driving it. Nothing beats driving on the open road for a weekend. Although it may seem obvious, freedom comes with a cost. Do your research before buying.

NewDriverNI estimates that it will cost you an average of PS1,064.50 to obtain your driving license if you start from scratch. Add to this the cost of your car, young driver’s insurance, petrol, maintenance, and upkeep. A quick check of your annual driving expenses is a good idea. You don’t want a large, expensive art piece outside your home.

Are you looking for a new or used item?

This is the second question that you will have to answer. Both answers are full of good and bad parts. There are many options for second-hand cars in Northern Ireland.

The new car smell

Nothing can beat the new car smell, especially when it’s your first. Most of us know that buying a car is a big commitment. This means we have to make some compromises. It is possible that you won’t be able to get the engine size you desire, or you may have to give up some add-ons to stay within your budget. However, chances of a breakdown with a new car are lower than those with an older model. The cost of cars today is lower to purchase, tax, and maintain.

They are also more well-specced than older models, and safer with modern safety features like airbags and driving assist. Depreciation is the cost of being the first person to own a car. Your dream car’s value drops dramatically as soon as it leaves the garage.

The best new cars for first-time buyers

We recommend these six cars as the best for first-timers:

  • VW Up!
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Hyundai i10
  • Toyota Aygo
  • Peugeot 108
  • Vauxhall Adam

Ask yourself these questions

It’s easy to become obsessed with a car, and forget its flaws. Remember that buying a car can be a major decision and should not be taken lightly.

  • Does it serve its purpose? You need to ensure that the car you choose is compatible with your lifestyle. It will become tiresome to maneuver a large, new car around small spaces every day in search of a parking spot.
  • Are you able to manage the monthly payments? The repayment commitment for a car purchase can be a long-term one. Most people will use some type of financial product to purchase their first car, unless they have the money upfront. This could mean that you have to pay a monthly sum, likely for as long as the car is in your possession.

Guide to buying a second-hand car

A second-hand vehicle is often the traditional first car. Although they may not have all the features of a brand new car, there are still good deals to be found in used cars from Northern Ireland.

As with buying a new vehicle, it’s important to do your homework.

Where can I buy my car?

A majority of people will purchase a used car through a dealer network, auction or directly from the owner. Each case has its own set of issues.

  • Buy from a Manufacturer Approved Network. This includes buying from BMW Approved Cars or Network Q, Mazda Approved, Ford Approved, and Ford Approved. They have a great brand to protect and a team of service professionals who are very familiar with their cars. They will verify the car’s service history and may guarantee the car’s performance for at most one year. They offer the best consumer rights to potential buyers.
  • Independent dealers will offer more options for making purchases. You’ll get a better deal and your rights as a consumer. Although most Independent Dealers in Northern Ireland are trustworthy, it is up to you to ensure you get a great deal on a quality car.
  • A car bought at auction is a purchase based on its appearance and not its performance. You won’t have the same consumer rights with an auctioneer, so make sure to read the Conditions of Sale before you bid on a car. You might get a bargain, or you may end up with a lot more.
  • Private sellers: A private seller is not allowed to sell cars. You do not have the same consumer rights as a public seller. It’s best to verify that they are legally permitted to sell the car, and that it runs smoothly. It’s not what you want to find out that you have bought a stolen vehicle. AA and RAC are able to inspect the vehicle and provide a report. Check Reg will also be able to give you information about the car’s past for free.

Types of used cars

There are many types of used cars. Knowing what yours is called will help you determine the price range it falls within. A car that is less than one year old and has not been used is considered near new. This is essentially a brand-new vehicle, but with a significant price drop. Used cars can be classified as ‘one-three years old’ or ‘over three year old’. Keep in mind that although the year of manufacture is crucial, mileage can vary greatly between cars. This can have an impact on the car’s performance, wear, and longevity.

How to check your car

Stick with the Manufacturer’s Authorised dealers if you don’t know much about cars and don’t know anyone who does. If you don’t know anything about cars, please refer to the checklist.

  • Take the time to inspect the car from every angle. Do not be rushed by dealers hovering around.
  • Check the tyres for any uneven wear. This could indicate bigger problems.
  • Take a test drive to ensure you get a good experience. Pay attention to noises, brakes and vibrations.
  • Match the mileage on your car with the mileage in your service history.
  • Get your car checked by Experian, HPI, RAC and AA. It will cost you money, but it is worth it.
  • Match the VIN on the vehicle registration document (or windows in newer models) to the MOT, V5 Vehicle Register Document.
  • You should know more than their phone number. If you have any problems, having a legitimate street address and/or company title may be helpful.

What to do if something goes wrong

  • You can request a repair or a refund if your vehicle develops faults when you purchase from a Dealer of Manufacturer’s authorized Network. It must be reported within a reasonable time. You will need to have the matter independently evaluated if the seller denies the fault.
  • If the dealer is a member, you can complain to the Retail Motor Industry Federation and Motor Codes Ltd.
  • Most trade associations offer arbitration for dealers and independent dealers. An independent expert determines fault. This agreement is binding, and your case cannot be heard in court afterward.
  • You can take legal action. The Small Claims Court handles sums below PS3,000. You should seek legal advice for anything above that.
  • You are restricted by the conditions of sale if you purchase from an auction.
  • If you buy directly from the owner, you’ll need to first try to resolve the problem with them. If that fails, appeal the Small Claims Court for cheaper cars or the County Court for higher amounts. It is probably time to seek sound legal advice.

It is an incredible moment in your life. If you do your research and take the time to shop around, you will enjoy many years of freedom.

Happy and safe driving