If you are planning to buy a car think whether you want a brand new one or a used one as the latter one could save you lots of cash. Whether you are after a cheap run-around or a dream car you have lots of choice on the second-hand market.
But with murky histories and hard-nosed salesmen, it can sometimes be a minefield too. Our guide will provide you with top tips to minimise the chance of any nasty surprises.
The average price of a new car is around £28,000. However, by the time it’s one-year-old with 10,000 miles on the clock it costs you about £21,000 – a reduction in price of 25% in the first 12 months. The depreciation rate is likely to slow down in the second year, only dropping around £3,500 in value.
Picking a year-old car will dramatically slash the upfront cost. There are some exceptions, however. Brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Porsche tend to hold their value.
Before you start your search for the ‘one’, think about what you really NEED from a car. If you are about to start a family there is no point buying a two-seater, so really work out the best choice for you.
A cheap car to run? Enough room for the family? A sporty car? Convertible? Think what you really need.
This could be a small space to park, tow a trailer, driving off-road.
Does it need to be able to cruise at motorway speeds or be nippy and small in a city?
Consider whether you will need the room for a pushchair, sports equipment or a new office chair for yourself!
Diesel engines are often more fuel-efficient than their petrol counterparts. But don’t be fooled into thinking this definitely makes diesel a better option.
It is possible to pay almost whatever you want for a used car, though you tend to find that diesel cars - even used - are slightly more expensive than petrol. But, where people think diesel is much better value is on the fuel station forecourt.
Let's take an example. A diesel Ford Fiesta can deliver 59mpg compared with the petrol version's 39mpg (according to What Car's true mpg calculator) which means that based on 10,000 miles per year, you would spend around £500 more filling up the petrol car than you would the diesel.
However, you need to remember that not everyone will achieve these mpgs. If you are not doing regular, long journeys where the engine is most efficient, then it is unlikely you will actually make any savings from going for the diesel model. If you just want a car for driving around town, it's likely a small petrol or electric car will be your best bet.
Most car companies have an approved used section, meaning they have checked the cars over before selling them. Dealers often give 6 month warranties as standard on approved used cars, however, sometimes you can extend the warranty period for a small amount of money. Dealerships make the car look and feel new, with any mechanical issues addressed before sale.
You may end up paying slightly more when buying from a dealer than from a private seller, but this route gives you peace of mind and makes it easier to make a complaint if things go wrong with the car.
Make sure you sort out your car insurance before you take ownership of the car. You must have insurance in place as soon as you have become the legal owner even if you're not driving it just yet.