If you’re sitting at home happily contemplating the purchase of a new Ferrari, you’re probably not the sort of person who has to watch the pennies. But for those less fortunate, going to buy a car, even if it’s second hand, it’s a frighteningly large outlay. It could lead to many miles of happy and well-budgeted motoring or it could drive you straight on to the road to hell.
Getting a car on the road costs a lot of money and mistakes can be very expensive. However, there are things you can do to keep costs downs the secret is, of course, preparation and research. Here are five things to watch out for.
The Right Car
You have to be disciplined and resist any temptation to impulse-buy ‘a bargain’. Instead, decide on what you actually need. Clearly, if you have six children then a two-door coupé is unlikely to be the car for you whatever the deal you’re offered. Your new car needs to suit your lifestyle, your job and your family circumstances.
When you’ve decided, look at all the makes available and don’t rule any of them out simply because you’re unfamiliar with the name or you consider them less fashionable.
All manufacturers are competing fiercely with each other to offer new-car packages that can include road tax, insurance, breakdown cover and even fuel for limited periods. New cars also tend to come with warranties and some with free servicing, which can save a lot of money.
If you’re going for a used car you might like to invest in an inspection by a qualified mechanic. Experts are far more likely to spot a problem lurking under the bonnet and that could also save you a lot of cash and prevent heartache.
You also need to check out the insurance implications of your new vehicle. Car insurance comparison websites like moneysupermarket can be very useful, not just for a general quote but for specific deals that cover all the things that are important to you. You could get an insurance deal that includes breakdown cover, for instance, or a multi-car deal if there are other drivers in the family.
Don’t forget Vehicle Excise Duty or car tax. It used to be based on engine size but since March 2001 the rate you pay is based on engine emissions – the greener your car, the less road tax you pay.
Leaner and greener engines aren’t just about saving on car tax ? they provide better fuel consumption too. Petrol prices are hard to predict but if you work on the basis that the trend is likely to be ever upwards you probably won’t go far wrong.
Whether you use the car to do the shopping or commute to a job 50 miles away, it’s surprising how much fuel you get through and you need to check whether a petrol or diesel engine suits you best. Diesel is more expensive at the pump but diesel engines tend to consume less fuel on the road.
Do your homework and take all of these factors into account you’ll stand a better chance of getting the right car at the right price when you decide to buy a car.